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Parliament

Stop the misinformation about COVID 19 says Minister

February 20, 2020 4:27 pm
Health Minister Doctor Ifereimi Waqainabete [Source: Fijian Parliament]

The Health Minister says misinformation about COVID 19 virus has to stop and those spreading fake news should stop instilling fear in Fijians.

Doctor Ifereimi Waqainabete called out Opposition MP Lynda Tabuya in particular for having played a major role in spreading misinformation and politicizing the issue.

Waqainabete says Tabuya has no medical background and should refrain from meddling in the affairs of medical professionals, who are working overtime to ensure Fiji remains safe from the COVID virus.

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He said Tabuya in her petition on Facebook, had said the virus spreads through trade winds.

“She is not an expert, she is a keyboard warrior, who doesn’t hesitate to give away her platform to any cayuses, no matter how deceitful, which gets enough likes to get her attention. She recently endorsed a petition regarding the establishment of Navua hospital’s isolation ward. A step, which I remind her could have saved somebody’s life, God forbid if COVID 19 arrived into Fiji. Honourable Speaker, the petition claimed trade winds could spread the virus throughout the entire nation. Mr Speaker, this is absurd, this is not an airborne disease. There is no risk of trade winds, or any other winds, south winds or western winds, northern winds, no other winds can carry COVID 19 throughout Fiji.”


Opposition MP Lynda Tabuya

Tabuya then raised a point of order, where she claimed the Minister was misleading Parliament.

“The honourable minister is again misleading the house. There is absolutely nowhere in my petition on my page that I have ever mentioned, the trade winds he is talking about. Please show that to me or in the house, otherwise withdraw your statement. That is a point of order…It’s there where? It’s not here in my petition.”

Waqainabete also attacked The Fiji Times for having run a story about a cruise ship in Lautoka, where the newspaper in its story claimed that passengers were not screened.

“Honorable Speaker, it blew up on social media and was the top viewed story on their website. In the online version of the story, there was no mention that the cruise ship and its passengers were actually screened at the port of entry of Lautoka. For some reason, that vital information was completely missing. Luckily we got onto them and removed the story online but the damage was already done.”

We have sent the question to Fiji Times Editor, Fred Wesley, who is yet to respond.

Waqainabete says the health professionals were putting their lives at risk to ensure that Fijians were protected not only current period but also during the measles outbreak.

“Honorable Speaker, many of our health staff, many…many…I am passionate today because they are my colleagues, maybe not yours but they are mine. Many of our health staff have been in the front line protecting our people throughout the measles outbreak working night and day, seven days a week without respite since November last year. Their dedication to our people and their proven professionalism speaks for itself Mr Speaker.”

The Minister then took a swipe at the Opposition for having not played their role during the measles outbreak, and when Navua was declared ground zero.

“At that time we went and visited Navua. The Honorable Speaker came and visited Navua. I did not see any Opposition member come to Navua hospital, let alone Wainadoi nor Navunikabi.”

The debate continues in Parliament.

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