Editorial Comment: A tight lid on the virus

Acting permanent secretary of Health, Dr James Fong at a press conference in Suva. Picture: JONACANI LALAKOBAU/FT FILE

The revelation yesterday that a 61-year-old Fijian who travelled from the United States via Auckland, New Zealand last week is the country’s 10th border quarantine case will attract attention.

Ministry of Health acting permanent secretary Dr James Fong said the man tested positive for COVID-19 after developing mild symptoms in a government designated border quarantine facility in Nadi.

All our latest cases are coming from within our quarantine facilities.

This may inch out a sense of confidence. It basically means we are able to identify and quarantine cases away from the general population.

Interestingly there is a letter in today’s edition where a writer expresses alarm over the fact there are people arriving into our country with COVID-19 for starters. Dr Fong said all the current cases were returning Fijian citizens who contracted the virus while overseas.

“As we’ve previously announced, one of those patients has sadly passed away, and two have since recovered. Currently, that makes for seven active border quarantine cases while all active cases are currently in stable condition and will be discharged in accordance with current Ministry of Health COVID-19 case discharge protocols.”

He said it had now been 117 days since the last case of COVID-19 in Fiji was reported outside a border quarantine facility. Dr Fong said: “As long as our border quarantine and infection prevention control protocols are upheld, there is no risk to the Fijian public from this new border quarantine case.” We cannot rest on our laurels though so to speak.

We acknowledge all those who are on our frontline fighting COVID-19 and all those manning our quarantine facilities.

Yesterday, the New Zealand Herald announced Kiwis would learn their lockdown fate this afternoon when their Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern addresses the nation.

This followed the announcement of 13 new cases in Auckland. It effectively took the country’s total number of cases in the community to 17 as of yesterday afternoon following the announcement of the initial four members of a family on Tuesday.

What is alarming is the fact that the new cluster popped up after more than 100 days of no cases in the community.

On the home front, we are buoyed by the fact that all our cases now were confirmed within our quarantine facilities. Emphasis now will no doubt be on the men and women who hold the key to us containing the virus. They shoulder a huge responsibility.

They will have to ensure no case slips through the safety net. They carry our hopes and aspirations. We, however, must play our part. That means adhering to social distancing rules.

That means washing our hands often with soap and water. It means cutting back on handshakes, and hugs. It means coughing or sneezing into your elbow or into a tissue and disposing this immediately, safely.

When you are out in public, do not touch your face. Our challenge is to ensure we embrace advice, and adhere to the rules.

There can be no room for complacency at all. Let’s stay on course Fiji.

More Stories