Bula Vinaka. I wish every Fijian a very Happy Easter!
Any other year my wife, children and grandchildren would be joining thousands of other Fijians families at church services, planning parties and spending intimate time with friends and loved ones – but we all know this isn’t any other year.
With the coronavirus still at our shores and Cyclone Harold’s recent devastation – the need for solidarity with our healthcare heroes, utility workers and disciplined forces has never been greater. So, this long weekend, let us all honour the sacrifices they bravely make every day, by staying home, keeping our children home and keeping the elderly at home.
Through this week we went to incredible lengths to ensure that we did not lose an inch of ground in our war against coronavirus due to Cyclone Harold. Because unlike the cyclone, the virus won’t disappear in a day. Our coronavirus containment measures – which depend heavily on testing, tracing, and isolating new cases – are all in full-swing.
After testing another 32 samples, today, we received confirmation of another COVID-positive case that we had been anticipating: the 9-year-old granddaughter of the gentleman in Labasa who traveled from India.
This young girl lived in the Soasoa settlement. She has been in isolation since the 4th of April. While she wasn’t showing any symptoms, we knew she had a high risk of being infected given her close contact with her grandfather. We had her tested and she was confirmed positive late this morning.
This diagnosis takes Fiji’s case total to 16. But given the length of time this young girl spent in isolation, and the fact that she wasn’t showing symptoms, her risk of infecting others is extremely low.
This is the sixth confirmed case stemming from the gentleman in Labasa – and it once again goes to show how long and dangerous a chain of transmission can grow if our public health directives are blatantly ignored.
So as Fijians gather with your own families this holiday weekend, I want each of you to take a moment to appreciate how much it means to have them in your life – and how much we sometimes take that for granted. Pledge to protect them by changing your own behaviour in the days, weeks, and months ahead.
Ask yourself: If I could prevent my grandparent from suffering a stroke by washing my hands, would I? If I could prevent my child from contracting cancer by staying home, would I? If I could stave off heart disease in my spouse by physically distancing, would I? The answer is obvious. Treat coronavirus no differently – it is just as serious as any other killer, but unlike some other diseases, the power to fight it is in your own hands.
So please, going forward, treat COVID-19 with the seriousness it deserves. Protect your family, do what the authorities tell you to do – help us break every chain of transmission in Fiji.