NEWS

Ministry Cautions: Lautoka Confinement Extends To April 7

Minister for Health and Medical Services Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete said: “If we lift the restrictions too early and we’ve missed even one person in Lautoka who has contracted the disease, the rest of Viti Levu would be at-risk,” he said.
02 Apr 2020 15:05
Ministry Cautions: Lautoka Confinement Extends To April 7
Minister for Health and Medical Services Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete. Photo: Ronald Kumar

Border restrictions within the Lautoka confined area have been extended up to 5 am Tuesday, April 7.

But this depends on the success of the measures already in place to flush out the coronavirus.

Restrictions were put in place for the Lautoka confined area on midnight March 19 after Fiji’s first COVID-19 patient was identified.

Today is day 14 of the Lautoka confined area restriction where the same rules remain, no one goes in and no one goes out.

Minister for Health and Medical Services Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete said: “If we lift the restrictions too early and we’ve missed even one person in Lautoka who has contracted the disease, the rest of Viti Levu would be at-risk,” he said.

Dr Waqainabete said his Ministry was doubling efforts with regard to risks that still exist where others may have contracted the virus through the confirmed cases in isolation.

He said though it was a small risk, it is one they could not afford to take.

So far 368 tests have been conducted.  On Tuesday night, 11 more tests were carried out, all returned negative.

But Dr Waqainabete emphasised, there is zero room for complacency.

“At the present time, in the interest of keeping everyone safe, we cannot allow anyone back into the confined area. I’ll tell you why: Our investigations revealed serious gaps in the account provided by the first patient about when his symptoms actually began.

“It’s clear we cannot trust everything he has said. Even though we’ve now successfully accounted for all of his known contacts, it is in the nation’s best interest that we all act as if there are still more cases in the area waiting to be detected, and even in the surrounding areas, such as Nadi, until we know with certainty that there are not.

“On top of that, we cannot disregard the possibility that the recent patient, the man who recently travelled to Fiji prior to testing positive while in New Zealand, may have picked up the virus while he was here.”

He said they would continue with the flow of essential goods and services going in and out of Lautoka.

“As you know in the past few days we have opened the port in Lautoka for international shipping including exports and imports.”

ISOLATION CENTRES

Dr Waqainabete confirmed that the Colo-i-Suva Forestry Training School was being prepared to be a COVID-19 isolation facility should the need arise.

They are working towards identifying more sites.

TESTING CRITERIA WIDEN

Anyone who is sick or may have caught a respiratory illness will now be tested.

“We have widened the criteria of testing to anyone that is coming into the hospitals or fever clinics,” Dr Waqainabete said.

Edited by Ranoba Baoa

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