Editorial comment – Keeping a lid on complacency

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

The revelation that a 66-year-old man has tested positive for COVID-19 and is now recorded as Fiji’s 19th case, will receive mixed emotions.

On one hand, it was to be expected given the fact that we were still receiving repatriation flights.

This meant our border was open for returning citizens.

Now the positive bit here is the fact that every returning citizen was expected to go straight into quarantine.

That meant they went into a quarantine facility once they arrived in Nadi.

This latest case was detected, we are told, at such a facility.

It means one thing, the case comes off our border quarantine facility within the mandatory period of 14 days.

That subsequently means the status quo remains for the rest of the country.

The latest case tested positive for the virus three days after returning from India on July 1 with his son. He is considered a “border quarantine case”.

Ministry of Health acting permanent secretary Doctor James Fong said the duo had travelled with 107 other passengers and had transited through Indonesia.

“He has since been securely and hygienically transported to Nadi Hospital, where he is being kept in isolation and is in stable condition,” he said.

“His son, who travelled with him from India, has also been moved into isolation at Nadi Hospital and is not displaying any symptoms.

“From the moment of their arrival they have remained under careful and constant medical supervision.”

Other passengers who travelled with the pair remained securely in quarantine.

Mandatory quarantine for all returning travellers, he said, was introduced on March 28, with mandatory testing coming into effect on April 23.

Since that time, he said, no returning traveller had gone through without undergoing the full 14 days of quarantine and clearing a negative COVID test result.

Now that we have this case, we are once again reminded about keeping the virus at bay.

That remains a major challenge for us.

It means we must adhere to social distancing rules.

This is a massive undertaking when one considers some scenes that unfolded yesterday as school resumed around the country.

A critical area that must be urgently looked at is transportation to and from school.

We just have to appreciate the fact that social distancing will keep us safe.

There is no vaccine for the virus. The only way now to be safe is to keep the virus away.

This is not the time for complacency. We must stay on course.

We must stay focused and vigilant. Wash your hands often with soap and water. Use a sanitiser if you have one.

Sneeze into your elbow or into a tissue and dispose this safely.

Do not shake hands and no hugging please. It may be tough for some of us, but we just have to rise to the challenge and do the right thing.

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