Analysis

Revealed: What Our First COVID-19 Patient Did In San Francisco

Before other Fijians start believing the Opposition on how we ended up having the first case of COVID-19 in Fiji, let us share some information which has not been out in public domain so far about our first confirmed COVID-19 patient.
29 Mar 2020 11:00
Revealed: What Our First COVID-19 Patient Did In San Francisco
San Francisco International Airport.

Before other Fijians start believing the Opposition on how we ended up having the first case of COVID-19 in Fiji, let us share some information which has not been out in public domain so far about our first confirmed COVID-19 patient.

This information has been retrieved from an internal Fiji Airways investigation report, which was undertaken to assist Health officials in its contact tracing efforts. Health and Medical Services Minister Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete also shared this in Parliament on Friday.

It is important to stress this information since SODELPA MPs such as Niko Nawaikula questioned why the first patient, a Fiji Airways flight attendant, was allowed to fly from San Francisco to Auckland and then to Fiji without being placed in self-isolation for 14 days.

In San Francisco

While in San Francisco, our first positive patient flaunted Fiji Airways instructions and policies. How?

He alleged to have left his hotel room in San Francisco to party and did not return to his hotel. He stayed with family despite strict instructions that they stay in their hotel rooms and not venture out.

He then allegedly went to a market with his family and friends when instead of staying in his hotel room until his flight departure like other crew members did.

He is said to have disregarded all instructions and company policies.

This information was not revealed to Fiji Airways when he left with the other cabin crew to fly to Auckland, New Zealand.

This is why he was allowed to fly to Auckland. He was expected to follow instructions, which other cabin crew members did.

He was not supposed to go out partying. Like all other adults and fellow cabin crew, he was supposed to stay inside his hotel room in San Francisco.

If he had done that, we would today have had only one case of the deadly coronavirus and not five.

In Fiji

When he returned to Fiji, our first confirmed patient went all around Lautoka, meeting and greeting family and friends.

He was not supposed to do that. As a responsible citizen, he was supposed to go straight into self-isolation not gallivant all over the Sugar City.

He did not disclose his symptoms earlier because that would have meant telling his employer – Fiji Airways – that he had disregarded their instructions and was not in his hotel room, where he was expected to remain.

This is why Lautoka had to be quarantined. In contrast, the fourth case followed the instructions of Health officials. This is why Suva was not quarantined.

Why weren’t our borders closed off earlier?

Because Fiji is the transportation hub for the Pacific, because we as a nation rely on tourism money, and we were the 164th country to get the first confirmed case of COVID-19 Fiji could not turn its back on the citizens returning home, Fiji could not turn its back on citizens of neighbouring countries whose citizens needed to transit through Fiji.

Fiji was one of the first Pacific countries to have a statutory declaration, a legally binding document where people were required by law to disclose their health status and symptoms.

That is a fact. Fijian Government, like all other Governments, would have expected people to follow the simple advice of self-quarantine for 14 days. We also had to allow those who were abroad, the opportunity to return home.

We could not have abandoned our citizens in a foreign land without giving them the opportunity to return home.

In hospital

Now, to reveal another piece of information not out in the public domain, but known to some Opposition MPs.

While in hospital, the first confirmed patient has been very active on social media and on the flight attendants Viber group, where he has been putting up messages showing that he is still not remorseful about his actions.

In fact, one of his sarcastic remarks was that he would continue going to Zumba.

So, before people get on the bandwagon of blaming Government, arm yourselves with some facts, Mr Nawaikula especially.

Feedback: jyotip@fijisun.com.fj

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