COVID-19

Fijian Prime Minister Urging Fijians To Take Self-Isolation Seriously, Saying It’s Not A Joke

Mr Bainimarama said it was important that people were honest and gave the correct and truthful information to health officials.
26 Mar 2020 10:22
Fijian Prime Minister Urging Fijians To Take Self-Isolation Seriously, Saying It’s Not A Joke
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and Minister of Health and Medical Services, Dr. Ifereimi Waqainabete at the press conference in Suva on March 25, 2020. Photo: Ilaijia Ravuwai

Fiji is at war with an invisible army, said Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama while calling out people who were not taking COVID-19 seriously.

Mr Bainimarama said this as he announced the nation’s fifth confirmed case of COVID-19 and the breach by 36 flight attendants who had been on self-isolation.

The fifth patient is a 31-year-old woman who was in the same zumba class with the country’s first case, a flight attendant. The two were in close proximity and even shared a hug. Mr Bainimarama said the woman was already in quarantine when symptoms appeared. She had already been traced by the Ministry of Health team.

“She shares a household with nine others –– two of whom were also showing symptoms and have been isolated in Lautoka Hospital,” the PM said.

“The other seven remain under strict quarantine in the home, which is under constant Police surveillance.”

Mr Bainimarama said it was important that people were honest and gave the correct and truthful information to health officials.

“Help them help you, and help Fiji beat this virus. By being dishonest, you aren’t protecting your loved ones from isolation; you are putting their lives in danger, and you risk infecting many more,” Mr Bainimarama said.

“Ask yourself. Would you rather them be in isolation for a couple of weeks, or lose them forever?”

Mr Bainimarama said Police were now investigating reports that 36 Fiji Airways flight attendants blatantly violated self-quarantine, shared grog and interacted with friends and caregivers from outside the quarantine area.

“To those not following our instructions, I have to ask. Is this a joke to you? What in God’s name are you thinking?” he said.

“While Fijians in Lautoka are living under lockdown, while our health workers work day and night to test and treat patients, and while the elderly are restricted to their homes, these Fijians are spitting on all of the sacrifices their fellow Fijians are making to keep our country safe.”

Mr Bainimarama said self-quarantine was not a voluntary measure, but a compulsory, legally-mandated order.

He has warned that the violation of the self-quarantine order would lead to arrests and possible time behind bars.

“Fiji is at war with the coronavirus. We cannot see our enemy. But we must act as if the enemy is in our midst at all times,” he said.

“You can join the fight by washing your hands with soap and water, practising physical distancing –– remember, two metres’ distance is safest –– and following any and every directive given to you by authorities.

“And if you’re told to quarantine, do it. Do it, or we’ll make you do it.”

Edited by Naisa Koroi

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