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Statements by Tabuya and Rasova wrong and we want them to apologise: RFMF Commander

June 4, 2021 11:14 am
From left: Lynda Tabuya, Viliame Naupoto and Simione Rasova

Commander of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces Rear Admiral Viliame Naupoto has slammed statements made by Opposition MPs Lynda Tabuya and Simione Rasova and asking the two to apologise.

In a statement, Naupoto says the accusations made by Tabuya in Parliament yesterday that “military officers who caused the original breach and Navy officers who breached COVID borders” and by Rasova that “Army Officers and Navy Officers who are spreading COVID” need to be corrected as both are wrong.

He says there is no factual evidence to suggest that RFMF personnel caused the initial breach.

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Naupoto clarified that there was no sharing of cigarette as mentioned in the earlier press conferences adding that one of them was in his room when the sharing of cigarette was alleged to have taken place and this was proven by CCTV footage.

The RFMF Commander says there was also an allegation earlier that a soldier came into contact with an incoming traveler whilst he was checking out without any protective clothing, again this was proven wrong by CCTV footage.

He says the whole border quarantine process is being reviewed by the quarantine experts in the Ministry of Health to plug any gaps that may exist in the current protocols that is being used and there are systemic issues that need to be reviewed.

Naupoto says in both their statements the two MPs did not allege, but have accused RFMF personnel without any factual evidence that the RFMF personnel caused the initial breach and deliberately spread the virus.

For the baseless and unwarranted accusations, the RFMF Commander is demanding that Tabuya and Rasova apologize to the RFMF front liners, their families, and all frontline workers who are out there daily, selflessly fighting this invisible and deadly disease.

Naupoto has given assurance that the RFMF is committed to the national effort of containing this outbreak and like all other frontline workers, they will not stop until Fiji reaches a COVID Contained Status again.

He says that it seems some are still trying to apportion blame (even though totally wrong) as their contribution to this national effort of trying to control the spread of COVID 19 in Fiji now.

The RFMF Commander stresses these politicians are wrongly blaming the very people who are risking their lives and those of their loved ones, by battling this virus as frontline workers.

Naupoto says the RFMF is currently providing full support to the Ministry of Health staff, in the work that they are doing in battling this virus and to bring the situation back to a “COVID Contained Status.

He adds that the RFMF’s task in this supportive role to the Ministry of Health is wide-ranging.

“It includes the following: Moving positive cases from their homes to isolation facilities or hospitals; moving primary contacts to isolation facilities; providing security in isolation facilities; delivering food and other items to those in isolation or quarantine facilities and providing a link between those in isolation and their families; conducting screening and providing support to the medical doctors who conduct swabbing; providing military nurses, technicians and administrators to help man the FEMAT hospitals; cooking and delivering food to Medical staff and patients in the FEMAT hospital; putting up tents and providing beds and beddings, when and where required; providing logistics and security support to the vaccination effort; packing and delivering food and welfare packs to households; and doing engineering work in hospitals, to have wards that are COVID compliant.”

Naupoto says the RFMF personnel even run errands for those in lockdown areas to ensure that they are comfortable during the period of lockdown.

He adds that all the work that RFMF personnel do in this COVID-19 containment effort are done in accordance with the COVID-19 protocols and these protocols are determined, set up, and dictated by the Ministry of Health.

The RFMF Commanders says military personnel who work in the frontline stay away from their families for weeks because of the risk of transmitting the disease to their families and to the community.

Rear Admiral Naupoto stresses that to label RFMF personnel as “super spreaders” as mentioned by Tabuya and Rasova is, to put mildly, nonsensical.

He says the opposite is true and that is RFMF personnel together with the Ministry of Health and other Government departments are working hard to contain the spread of this virus and the Commander has no doubt that this National effort will succeed.

Naupoto reiterates that the high number of cases that is being reported from the Navy Cluster is a reflection of the environment they work in as ships are very confined and the crew share cabins.

He says when the first case of the Navy personnel was detected, the Navy immediately went into lockdown where those that were outside Navy establishments remained outside and those inside Navy establishments stayed in.

Naupoto explains that this allowed Health officials to conduct contact tracing and swabbing adding that those onboard ships that were negative had to stay in with those that were positive because the ships cannot operate without the individual skillset of each member of the ships’ crew.

He says they had expected, based on an informed decision, that there will eventually be positive cases onboard these ships and in naval shore establishments, hence the increasing number in the past few days.

The Commander stresses that these cases are from those already in isolation, so there is no risk of community transmission.

Naupoto went on to explain that when a military nurse tested positive from the Muanikoso cluster, QEB went into lockdown mode, including their hospital, the George Mate Medical Center (GMMC).

He says this again allowed quick contact tracing and testing and the positive cases and their primary contacts were isolated and both QEB and GMMC are up and running, operational again.

Naupoto says these actions clearly show how serious the RFMF is in trying to contain the virus instead of super spreading it as so wrongly inferred by the two Members of Parliament.

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