Analysis

Nemani Delaibatiki: Indicators Show That Fiji Government Reasonably Prepared In Same Way As It Did In Measles Outbreak

Closure of border a step-up to strengthen security against virus Officially, so far there is no case of coronavirus here. If it lands here the ministry is well prepared to treat cases
04 Feb 2020 12:34
Nemani Delaibatiki: Indicators Show That Fiji Government Reasonably Prepared In Same Way As It Did In Measles Outbreak
Minister for Health and Medical Services Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete (third from left), and the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Bernadette Welch, at the Nadi International Airport inspecting the preparation for novel coronavirus as a lot of movements of people flow through. Photo: Ministry of Health and Medical Services

Analysis:

The Government must be commended in the way it has handled the coronavirus.

It has made the right decision to close the country’s borders to all foreign nationals who have been to mainland China within 14 days of their intended travel to Fiji.

Its preparation and execution of its strategy are similar to the way it handled the measles outbreak last year.

In the measles outbreak, soon after the first news story came out from the North Island of New Zealand, the Ministry of Health started its monitoring process and built a plan on how to combat the disease when it got here.

When it finally did, we were ready for it. The vaccination process started in earnest with the children who were the most vulnerable before it was extended to adults.

There were 28 confirmed cases, but no one died. Contrast that with Samoa with a population of only 200,874 (Fijian population is more than 800,000) 79 people died, 61 of them were four years old and under.

The comparison gives us an idea of how good our Government systems worked. That should be recognised. Now the same kind of approach is being used to try to keep the deadly virus, which has spread from China to other parts of the world including our Pacific region, away from Fiji.

This is no time to be making irrational statements that only cause unnecessary alarm and panic. But this is a time to band together and address this virus threat.

The ministry so far has shown that it will not make hasty decisions and announcements for the public unless the information is supported by authoritative health and medical sources like World Health Organisation and other relevant local and international agencies.

Co-operation between countries under their bilateral arrangement also kicks into gear. The possibility of evacuating Fijians in Wuhan is under discussion with regional partners New Zealand and Australia.

After that, there is the consideration of quarantine in facilities which have been set up here for suspected cases.

Officially, so far there is no case of coronavirus here.

If it lands here the ministry is well prepared to treat cases.

The wearing of a mask, while new to Fiji, is common in some Asian countries. It is worn to protect people from airborne diseases.

It is positive to note that people are generally relaxed about the virus threat. There is no panic although people are aware of it.

This is an ideal situation because the ministry does not want to see people in a state of panic.

The border closure to certain foreigners will help reduce the risks of the virus getting through.

But even measures like this does not guaranty it won’t slip through, health officials have acknowledged.

With all the measures now in place, the indications are that we are reasonably prepared to handle any confirmed case.

We don’t doubt that given our measles outbreak record.

Feedbacknemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

Fiji Sun Instagram
Fiji Plus
Subscribe-to-Newspaper