Fijians Turn On Fijians

Fijians living in Pacific Harbour took to Facebook demanding that Fijians in isolation be not allowed to stay at The Pearl.
24 May 2021 12:30
Fijians Turn On Fijians
An aeriel view of The Pearl South Pacific Resort in Pacific Harbour. Photo: Anish Karan

In a sad case of Fijians turning on Fijians, The Pearl South Pacific Resort has had to pull out of Government initiative to be an isolation facility, at the eleventh hour.

Government has announced that they want families of positive cases to live with dignity in places with good facilities, rather than in schools where facilities are shared.

“To increase quarantine quality and capacity, we will be using several of Suva’s hotels and motels as quarantine centres for primary contacts of new cases,” Permanent Secretary for Health and Medical Services Dr James Fong had announced.

For this, the Government willingly decided to foot the bill of accommodating these Fijians in hotels and motels around the Central Division. Two such hotels earmarked were the Pearl and Novotel.

On Saturday, close to 60 Fijians who are currently isolating in Adi Cakobau School were told to sanitise, pack their bags and board two buses brought over by the Republic of Fiji Military Forces drivers.

They were to be transported to The Pearl, where each family could live with separate facilities such as showers and toilets and in dignity.

It is believed that at the 11th hour, The Pearl management pulled out of this arrangement because of the backlash from Fijians living in Pacific Harbour and surrounding areas. It is also believed that some staff of the resort said they would not work if the Resort became an isolation facility.

Dr Fong said he was made aware of the strong opposition to the resort becoming a quarantine facility.

An email sent to resort general manager Natalie Marletta at 1.30pm yesterday was not responded to when this edition went to press.

Ms Marletta hung up on three phone calls that were made to get comments from her.

A message sent on Viber at 4.30pm was seen by her, however there was no response.

Claims surfaced that the management of the Hotel gave in to mounting pressure from the community and informed the Ministry of Health and Medical Services team that they would not be able to provide accommodation to these Fijians from the isolation facilities.

Fijians living in Pacific Harbour took to Facebook demanding that Fijians in isolation be not allowed to stay at The Pearl.

In a Pacific Harbour Facebook Community page, residents and community members questioned why The Pearl had agreed to be hired as an isolation facility and also revealed writing to the Ministry of Health and Medical Services, asking the ministry to review their decision on the matter.

A resident went on to say, “We are not their dumping ground” to air her disappointment at the ministry’s decision.

Dr Fong added: “I have also received a lot of inquiries on this topic and now we are looking and finding other alternatives.”

He pleaded with members of the public to work with the ministry in the setting up of quarantine facilities for fellow Fijians who needed to be isolated.

“I would plead with any community to please work with us in the setting up of our quarantine facilities. The Ministry of Health and Medical Services with our security partners have reviewed all our quarantine protocols with particular attention ensuring there is adequate oversight on the quarantine processes and maintaining the integrity of quarantine bubbles,” Dr Fong said.

More comments from the community in Pacific Harbour included:

“Why The Pearl Resort, why? Our community will now be vulnerable to the pandemic outbreak! There are thousands of facilities in the containment zone that can be occupied! I hope it’s just not for the dollar.

“Of all the places in Suva, why the Pacific Harbour?

“I just hope that the management of The Pearl South Pacific Resort have taken a deep thought on this, the lives of the staff and their families are at risk.”

In contrast, several hotels on Denarau Island in Nadi had willingly opened their doors to those returning from overseas for isolation. Several resorts in Nadi had also willingly offered to be isolation facilities for Government.

Edited by Naisa Koroi


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