Politics

Dr Waqainabete To Lynda: Think About The Lives, Not The Likes On Facebook

Dr Waqainabete called out The Fiji Times and Opposition Whip Lynda Tabuya for spreading misinformation about the virus and panic among Fijians.
21 Feb 2020 09:50
Dr Waqainabete To Lynda: Think About The Lives, Not The Likes On Facebook
Government MP Jale Sigarara and Minister for Health and Medical Services Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete outside Parliament on February 20, 2020. Photo: Kelera Sovasiga

The lies and misinformation spread about COVID-19 (coronavirus) are appalling, says Minister for Health and Medical Services Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete.

Dr Waqainabete called out The Fiji Times and Opposition Whip Lynda Tabuya for spreading misinformation about the virus and panic among Fijians.

While delivering his ministerial statement in Parliament yesterday, Dr Waqainabete said Fiji had not been spared from the “infodemic” term coined by the World Health Organisation Director General, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus.

“Infodemic”, Dr Waqainabete said, referred to the mass circulation of misinformation about COVID-19.

“Unfortunately, lies – it seems – are extremely dangerous,” Dr Waqainabete said.

“I rise today in the hopes of adding clarity to the situation and quelling unfounded fear among the Fijian public.

“As a doctor, I feel the need to tell honourable Tabuya this ‘Don’t think about the ‘likes’ you’ll get on Facebook, think about lives, about the best thing to be done for Fijians’.

“Honourable Tabuya is not a doctor. She is not an expert. She is a keyboard warrior who doesn’t hesitate to give away her platform to any cause, no matter how deceitful, which gets enough likes to gain her attention.”

Dr Waqainabete claimed that Ms Tabuya had endorsed a petition against the establishment of Navua Hospital’s isolation ward and that “trade winds” could spread the virus.

“Mister Speaker, that 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 carrying COVID-19 throughout Fiji,” he said.

“The petition called for the use of isolation wards on outer islands. If that were to happen, they have said Moala. I want Fiji to hear they’ve said Moala, the odds of an infected Fijian surviving would plummet. We simply do not have the capacity at this stage now in the islands, and the facilities to treat a serious case of this virus.”

Dr Waqainabete said the idea of having isolation units on outer islands was appalling and the ministry would never allow misplaced, ignorant fear to jeopardize the life of a patient.

Dr Waqainabete clarified that Navua Hospital was not a quarantine unit for other nations and that the presence of isolation units meant the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak was reduced dramatically.

“Navua was ground zero for measles. It started in Wainadoi and that’s where we contained it in Navua Hospital. Because isolation units work and during that time we went and visited Navua. The honourable Speaker came and visited Navua. I did not see any Opposition members come to Navua Hospital. Let alone Wainadoi. Why? Because they work. During the measles outbreak, there was an isolation unit there and it worked.”

Ms Tabuya raised a point of order saying Dr Waqainabete misled the Parliament as there was no mention of trade winds in her petition.

In his response to Dr Waqainabete’s ministerial statement, Shadow Minister for Health, Dr Ratu Atonio Lalabalavu, acknowledged the Ministry’s efforts and urged the minister to issue daily video updates to keep Fijians informed.

Edited by Ivamere Nataro

Feedback: fonua.talei@fijisun.com.fj

 

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