RFMF Hits Back At Covid-Claims

Solomon Star News claimed that Fijian and PNG troops brought COVID-19 to Solomon Islands.
26 Jan 2022 12:23
RFMF Hits Back At Covid-Claims
Republic of Fiji Military Forces Commander, Major-General Ro Jone Kalouniwai. Photo: Leon Lord

None of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) personnel who went to the Solomon Islands was COVID-19 positive.

RFMF Commander, Major-General Ro Jone Kalouniwai, strongly refuted claims that Fijian soldiers were part of the group of foreigners who spread COVID-19 in Solomon Islands.

The Solomon Star, in an article dated January 22, published an article titled ‘Finger of Blame Shifting’. The article seemingly blamed soldiers from Fiji and Papua New Guinea, claiming they were bringing COVID-19 into Solomon Islands and held them responsible for community transmission.

The article also claimed that foreign troops never went through adequate quarantine requirements before they were deployed into Honiara.


RFMF responds:

While responding to these claims, Major-General Kalouniwai said it was unfortunate that these claims had been made when none of the Fijian personnel tested positive of COVID-19 during the deployment.

“I need to make something clear, all our taskforce RFMF personnel that were deployed to the Solomon Islands were PCR tested before they left,” Major-General Kalouniwai said.

“They have gone through the PCR test and they went through the normal procedure for any deployments that were going out of the country,” he said.

“It is a mandatory requirement by the Ministry of Health and Medical Services in Fiji, ATS, AFL and Nadi International Airport departure.

“Now the results that we got out of it was shared by our movement control team through the Australian Defense Force mobile air loading team. This is all done prior to boarding so that the check in can be verified.

“In this case, all the negative results were verified and checked by the airport staff and the ADF personnel as well.”


In the Solomon Islands

Major-General Kalouniwai said the information from their platoon commander in the Solomon Islands stated that on arrival in Honiara, the Fijian troops went into isolation with the Australian Defence Force at Henderson Field.

“The troops were released from quarantine by the Solomon Islands Ministry of Health and Police after they had returned negative tests during the completion of their quarantine. That’s what I wanted to clarify.

“I have documentation proof here to confirm that every one of them had been tested negative when released from quarantine.”

He added that there was no proof to the claims made by the Solomon Star.


Community work

He said that the RFMF personnel in the Solomon Islands had been carrying out Civil Military Affairs tasking where they had to assist the civil community.

“Before the outbreak, they had been organising a sports function for the communities, they assisted in house construction, cleaning up the cemetery of the ex-servicemen there. They have been engaged with the community there.

“In the last few days they have been isolated because of the current COVID-case surge in the Solomon Islands and this morning they had assisted the Solomon Islands ministry of health with organising a vaccination programme.

“I can confirm that they all are negative of COVID-19.”

He added that the title of the article spoke so much of how it tried to point fingers and shift the blame on foreign troops.

50 RFMF personnel departed Fiji for the Solomon Islands in late November last year.

Thirty-six had returned while 14 remained in the Solomon Islands at the request of the Solomon Islands Government.

They continue their tasking as delegated by the Solomon International Assisting Force.



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