I’d like to thank the Minister for Health Dr. Ifereimi Waqainabete, the Country Director of the World Health Organisation, Dr Corinne Capuano, and Fiji’s Chief Medical Adviser, Dr Jemesa Tudravu, for joining me.
Fiji has kept a close watch on the global spread of the coronavirus – now known as COVID-19. The virus has now infected more than 80,000 people in over 30 countries.
As of today, there are no suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Fiji.
However, given the rapid increase in global cases, we’re announcing a new range of measures at our borders to reduce the risk of an outbreak in Fiji.
Following the closure of Fijian borders to all visitors from mainland China, from 28 February, we will also be denying access to any foreign nationals who have been present in the nations of Italy and Iran or in Cheongdo county and Daegu city in South Korea within 14 days of their intended travel to Fiji. The UAE and Singapore have just announced similar measures. In cooperation with Fiji Airways and other carriers, our previously announced stringent border screening measures will remain in place for all inbound passengers to Fiji. From Monday next week, we will also be screening all international air passengers with handheld temperature scanners and – in two to three weeks’ time – we will have thermal scanners installed at our international airports.
At sea, from 28 February, all cruise ships entering Fijian waters will be required to make first berth at ports in Suva or Lautoka, where all passengers on board will undergo our earlier-announced medical and travel history checks.
The global economy is taking a big hit from the spread of COVID-19, and Fiji will feel the impacts as well. But as I’ve said before, we’re introducing these new security measures because we believe the health of our people must always come first.
In the United States, health officials revealed that an eventual, larger-scale outbreak of COVID-19 in the country was all but inevitable. This is a reality all countries must face –– but our decision-making must be guided by facts, not by fear. That’s why the Ministry of Health will diligently prepare for the disease, even though Fiji continues to be free of coronavirus.
In the meantime, our health officials are equipped and prepared to isolate and treat any case of the virus if it arrives in the country. In fact, we’ll soon have the capacity to quickly and accurately test for the virus here in Fiji, rather than send samples overseas.
Every Fijian can aid our nationwide response, firstly, by practicing good hygiene. Wash your hands, cover your mouth and nose if you cough or sneeze and, if you are feeling unwell, immediately contact the Health Ministry on one of these numbers:
In the Central Division call 2219905;
In the Eastern Division call 2219906;
In the Western Division call 2219907; and
In the Northern Division call 2219908.
It also remains vital that all Fijians rely exclusively on trusted sources of information for their COVID-19 updates; namely the WHO and the Ministry of Health and Medical Services.
By air and by sea, Fiji is implementing every proven, medically-sound measure at our disposal. As the global situation evolves, so will our response, and we will continue to provide regular updates to the public.
Vinaka and God Bless.