NEWS

Fong Highlights COVID-19 Operations Difficulties

While there were a lot of lessons learnt from developed countries, the main problem was that it was not contextualized.
20 May 2022 12:25
Fong Highlights COVID-19 Operations Difficulties
Health and Medical Services Permanent Secretary, Dr James Fong in Suva on May 19. Photo: Ronald Kumar

Managing community COVID-19 quarantine setups at the height of the pandemic was difficult, the Health and Medical Services Permanent Secretary, Dr James Fong, explained Tuesday.

While explaining the compliance audit report on the COVID-19 response to the Parliamentary Standing Committee, Dr Fong said the pandemic was unprecedented and there was no basic formula for them to work with.

While there were a lot of lessons learnt from developed countries, the main problem was that it was not contextualized.

He added that a lot of the recommendations from the World Health Organisation was generic in nature.

“A lot of what we put in our Preparedness and Response Plan was pulled out from generic material that was given to us by WHO,” Dr Fong said, adding that operational details changed during the course of implementation.

“There was initially the idea of community quarantine facilities but the scale of the problem became so bad that we actually had to run to hotels and we had to go to pre-existing facilities.

“We couldn’t keep up with food supply and we couldn’t keep up with all the support mechanisms that are required for a good isolation quarantine facility.”

He said presenting the generic plan to Cabinet along with operational details was difficult.

“It sounded a bit illogical for me as General Manager at the time,” he said.

“It did not sound logical for me to keep narrating things when the people that I’m supposed to narrate to are already in front of us.

“And I’m giving them both the generic formula and the operational details leading to the generic formula.

“It was basically a muddy field in terms of the meaning of what we were presenting to cabinet. What is the actual meaning of that sentence in the context of an ongoing, running unprecedented situation.”

He also mentioned that at one point there were 70 per cent of locals occupying the hotel quarantine facilities instead of travelers.

Feedback: fonua.talei@fijisun.com.fj

 



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