Politics

Nemani Delaibatiki: Politicians Like Rabuka Should Not Politicise Health Issues Like A Virus Threat Without Knowing The Full Facts

Their comments could cause unnecessary fear and alarm among the people, especially if they are unsubstantiated. In the case of the coronavirus, the best course of action is to listen to experts and officials
31 Jan 2020 09:41
Nemani Delaibatiki: Politicians Like Rabuka Should Not Politicise Health Issues Like A Virus Threat Without Knowing The Full Facts
From left to right; Air Terminal Services staff Reama Cakau, Wilson Erasito with travellers at the Nadi International Airport. Photo: Mereleki Nai

Analysis:

As a former Prime Minister, Sitiveni Rabuka knows fully well the procedures that are involved in dealing with a serious health issue like a virus threat.

Situation reports are usually released after details are checked and verified to ensure that information going out to the public is correct and factual.

In the case of the coronavirus, the Ministry of Health has been working in consultation with the World Health Organisation and other relevant international agencies to collate situation reports.

It does not rush into making decisions that could cause unnecessary alarm, fear or panic.

Mr Rabuka had called for the setting up of Government quarantine stations saying the use of a hotel was unacceptable. That was an ill-conceived radical call made on baseless grounds

If he knew the exact details of the situation when he made that statement, he would not have done it. His knee-jerk response was an over-reaction calculated to gain political mileage. But it failed miserably.

It was a political stunt because he should have known better being a former PM.

It was obvious that he was trying to be relevant at a time when the party he leads is in the throes of its worst division since its inception.

Minister for Health and Medical Services Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete has clarified that the use of the Melanesian Hotel in Nadi to keep six Chinese from Wuhan Province who had been refused entry to Samoa was not new.

The hotel was not a quarantine facility, he said.

Dr Waqainabete said the Chinese were not sick and the Immigration Department used the hotel to keep visitors from around the world who had yet to gain clearance to enter Fiji.

He assured the public that his ministry was working with stakeholders to put public health systems on the ready to detect, test and respond if a case was identified in Fiji.

Facilities like the Nadi Hospital had been identified in the West that could be used temporarily to deal with the novel coronavirus.

Just like he and his team had done to contain the measles outbreak, Dr Waqainabete had prepared well for the coronavirus before it reached Australia.

The message that should go out is that it is irresponsible to say things that could cause unnecessary alarm and panic.

The best option is to heed the advice of the health authorities and let’s all ride through this virus threat with sensitivity.

When it is all over and there is a review or post mortem over how we dealt with it, then we including politicians, we  can join in the discussion and make suggestions.

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