STATEMENT FROM THE ACTING PERMANENT SECRETARY FOR HEALTH AND MEDICAL SERVICES

Bula Vinaka.
 
Earlier this week we assured the public the arrival of repatriation flight GA7280 from New Delhi to Fiji on the 27th of August was dealt with in line with our border quarantine protocols –– which are the most stringent anywhere in the world. As some of you may be aware, several New Zealand citizens on board that flight continued onwards travel after spending about 30 minutes on the tarmac of Nadi Airport. Five of those passengers went on to test positive for COVID-19 upon arrival to New Zealand. As per our infection control protocols, all areas of Nadi Airport accessible to passengers from that flight have been hygienically deep-cleaned.
 
As per Fijian border quarantine protocol, all disembarking passengers from that flight were tested for the virus. Following the confirmation of cases in New Zealand, we did expect some test results to return positive. Two passengers did indeed test positive for the virus. They are both male Fijian citizens, one is aged 55 and the other is 22. These confirmations bring Fiji’s total number of active border quarantine cases to five.
 
Both gentlemen have been hygienically secured in the isolation ward at Nadi Hospital. Neither were displaying symptoms at that time of testing. Again, these tests were run as part of our standard border quarantine process.
 
All 83 other passengers on board the flight have returned negative results. These passengers have each been entered into mandatory 14-day quarantine period in a government designated quarantine facility under supervision from the Republic of Fiji Military Forces. If any develop symptoms, they will be tested for the virus. At the end of their quarantine period, we will test them once again. If they return negative results, they will be discharged. 
 
The frontline border staff that were directly involved in the arrival of the passengers on this flight have also all tested negative for COVID-19.
 
Once again, I must emphasize: Our border quarantine and infection prevention control protocols are as strict as they come. So long as they are upheld there is no risk to the Fijian public from border quarantine cases.
 
Thank you.

The Fiji Embassy Tokyo, in collaboration with the Asia-Pacific Ladies Friendship Society, Donated more than one thousand library books to two Schools in Fiji

FET-ALFS-Report-Aug-2020

Statement from the Acting Permanent Secretary for Health and Medical Services, Tuesday, 1 September 2020 – COVID19

Bula Vinaka.

Today we are announcing one new border quarantine case of COVID-19, a 25-year-old female nursing officer. She contracted the virus while treating one of our other border quarantine cases in an isolation unit.

We are considering this case a “border quarantine case” because this nurse never entered a public space after contracting the virus. As per protocol, she worked and lived in the isolation centre, with exactly zero contact with the public. She then entered a Fijian Government quarantine facility –– again, without ever interacting with anyone from the public. After developing symptoms while in quarantine, she was tested. After she returned a positive result for COVID-19, she was admitted to the isolation ward at Nadi Hospital where she is recovering well. In fact, her symptoms have since dissipated.
 
Her fellow isolation unit nursing colleagues and medical officers on rotation have all returned negative results. Out of an abundance of caution, even though they never interacted directly with this patient, all relevant frontline health, hotel staff and military personnel have been swabbed for the virus and tested negative.
 
Around the world, rates of infection among healthcare staff are among highest of any group. As nearby as New Zealand, during the month of April, one in ten cases are recorded among healthcare workers. Even when every protocol is followed, even when Personal Protective Gear is employed properly, this unpredictable and unwieldy virus can still be transmitted.
 
Despite more than 3,000 patients held within our quarantine facilities, this is the first positive case confirmed among our staff working in our isolation facilities. But given what we’ve seen around the world, we are quite sure it won’t be the last. That is why we’ve structured an airtight operation system within our isolation facilities to ensure no risk to the general public –– I’d like to cover again exactly how those facilities function.
 
Our medical staff work these isolation facilities through a roster system, whereby they work and live in the isolation facility for 14 days, then go into quarantine in one of our government designated quarantine facility for 14 days. They must then register another negative COVID test result before they can rejoin their family. This is the most stringent system of isolation unit management in the world, more rigorous than both Australia and New Zealand.
 
Our healthcare staff all operate in appropriate personal protective equipment at all times. There is no shortage of these supplies in Fiji and our staff are well-trained in its use. We’re constantly reviewing and strengthening personal protection measures wherever we see an opportunity. However, as I’ve said, some risk will always remain due to the aggressively contagious nature of the virus. That is why we must always remain vigilant.
 
This will be our 11th border quarantine case. We currently now have two active cases in Lautoka and one in Nadi Hospital.
 
I know the stringent protocols we have in place are a great comfort to the Fijian people. But we must never forget nor take for granted the exceptional sacrifices these measures demand of our healthcare staff. There is nothing easy about living and working away from your family for four weeks at a time.


There is nothing easy about working to save a life while also mitigating the risk of further infection. And it takes nothing less than absolutely bravery to work in our isolation wards. The Fijians who do so are heroes –– full stop.

Our medical staff of orderlies, ward assistants, laboratory technicians, nurses and doctors have together with the members of our security forces (RFMF, Navy and Police) held the frontline since the COVID 19 battle begun. We have as a group have weathered criticism, we have endured hardships, we have seen and experienced social and emotional turmoil, but we will never surrender. We will always honour our duty to our people; to keep them healthy and safe –– and we will do so with vigilance, with courage and with compassion.
 
We have noted that several recent cases confirmed at the New Zealand border in Christchurch transited through Fiji while travelling from India to New Zealand. We want to assure the public that these individuals did not contract or transmit the virus while in Fiji. These individuals landed in Fiji, spent 30 minutes in Nadi Airport, interacted with no one, and then transited onwards to New Zealand.

Thank you.

Statement by the Acting Permanent Secretary for Health and Medical Services, Dr James Fong – Tuesday, 25 August 2020

Bula Vinaka and good afternoon. 
 
We all know the impacts of COVID-19 stretch far beyond the health sector alone. Our response requires a whole-of-government approach –– particularly when it comes to Fiji’s economic recovery. That’s why I’m here today alongside representatives from our COVID-19 Risk Mitigation Taskforce.
 
Our full CRMT team consists of the Permanent Secretary for Economy, myself, the Acting Permanent Secretary for Health and Medical Services, and the Permanent Secretary for Commerce, Trade, Tourism and Transport. We’ve also been working closely with other co-opted members of the taskforce, including the Permanent Secretary for Immigration, the Health Protection team, the Incident Management Team, and the Republic of Fiji Military Forces Surveillance team.

As we have previously announced, we have securely confirmed border quarantine cases of COVID-19 among our citizens who are returning from overseas. These cases have not represented a risk to the public. Under the watchful eye of our disciplined forces, Fiji’s border is sealed, and the virus has not re-entered our communities.
 
However, I’m sad to report that another of these patients, a 61-year-old man, has passed away due to complications of COVID-19. The gentleman contracted the virus while in the United States. He arrived to Fiji from Sacramento, California on the 6th of August, where he was immediately entered into quarantine.
 
He developed symptoms of COVID-19 shortly after entering border quarantine and was transferred to the isolation unit at Nadi Hospital. When his condition worsened, he was transferred to the isolation unit at Lautoka hospital for specialized care. Despite the best efforts of our healthcare professionals he sadly passed away last night at the Lautoka Hospital Intensive Care Unit.
 
We at the Ministry of Health and Medical Services extend our deepest sympathies to his friends and family. We feel this loss across the Ministry, and his treating nurses and physicians mourn his passing most acutely. But we all take some solace in the fact that this gentleman was able to return to Fiji, and it is here he can be laid to rest –– in Fiji, his home.
 
Our Lautoka hospital colleagues have worked with the gentleman’s family to ensure funeral arrangements adhere to the necessary infection prevention and control protocols.
 
We had delayed announcement of this second fatality until the afternoon out of respect for the family’s wishes, as they requested that they be able to first hold this gentleman’s burial before they were thrust into the national spotlight. So, we were all shocked when the Fiji Sun jumped the gun with their report of his passing, even after we had specifically expressed to them to hold off for the sake of this gentleman’s loved ones. 
 
We are deeply disappointed with the Fiji Sun’s lack of ethics in this instance. No media organisation should let moral imperatives be overridden by the insatiable desire to “be first” in their reporting. These are sensitive issues that demand decency from all of us –– and it’s shameful that the Fiji Sun is more focussed on making headlines than on granting this family the privacy to mourn their loss.
 
In fact, it is more than just indecent. Such reckless reporting puts unfounded fear in our people’s hearts, as they learn of a fatality from this deadly virus without any of the proper context provided.
 
We hope never to see such irresponsibility repeated.

I want to assure every Fijian watching that this latest fatality –– while tragic –– does not pose a risk to the public. It has now been 129 days since Fiji has recorded a new case of COVID-19 in our communities. We aim to maintain that unbroken streak. All health staff directly involved with the care of this patient have adhered to strict infection prevention and control protocols. Each will undergo quarantine in a government designated facility and must clear a negative COVID test result to be released. 
 
As confirmed by our continual testing at the border and among the Fijian public, we are now one of the few countries –– if not the only country –– in the world to contend with an outbreak of the virus, contain that outbreak, and then go more than 100 days without a resurgence.
 
With over 23 million confirmed cases and 800,000 deaths from COVID-19 confirmed around the world, no one should take Fiji’s COVID-Contained status for granted. In our own neighbourhood, Australia –– and now New Zealand –– are both contending with new outbreaks of the virus, as are Papua New Guinea and French Polynesia.
 
In New Zealand’s case, given how effectively they stamped out their initial outbreak, their latest cluster of cases came as a surprise to all of us. But we are confident our Kiwi partners will act with the same decisiveness that served them so well in the past. We applaud New Zealand’s recent move to implement managed isolation for confirmed patients and mobilise the New Zealand Defence Force to enhance border security –– Fiji can attest these measures work.
 
New Zealand’s experience goes to show that Fijians cannot become complacent –– nor have we been. We have continued to test regularly for the virus in our communities and among our healthcare workers. All those tests have returned negative. Our testing positivity rate –– the single most important metric –– ranks among the lowest in the world at 0.4%.
 
On the technical side, we’ve been conducting exhaustive reviews of the guidelines within our Fijian COVID-Safe Economic Recovery Framework.
 
We’ve said from the start this a flexible framework that will evolve alongside our constantly changing global and local environment. Today, we’re announcing some amendments to Phase 2 of our COVID-Safe Economic Framework. These are mainly for the sake of consistency.
 
As per our last announcement, all gatherings are limited to 100 people. We’re amending that restriction, allowing for houses of worship, restaurants, cafes, entertainment venues, such as gaming centres, bars, pubs and conferences and meeting venues, swimming pools, common areas in boarding facilities, including weddings, funerals and other community gatherings to function at 50% capacity.
 
So, if a venue has a capacity for 500 people, it can now host up to 250 people. However, if a venue capacity is less than 200, it can continue to host events with 100 people or less. This applies to both indoor and outdoor facilities.
 
Up until now, we’ve been using the 50% capacity thresholds for sports stadiums. Just like with athletic events, these measures only work well when all Fijians take COVID Safe precautions.
 
That means we must maintain physical distance of 1.5 metres as much as possible; avoid shaking hands, kissing and hugging; queue responsibly; wash our hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitiser; cough or sneeze into a tissue or the bend of our elbows; and stay home if you’re feeling unwell.
 
Lastly –– and this is critically important –– please download the careFIJI contact tracing application. If you are organising an event, make sure everyone attending the event has careFIJI installed with the Bluetooth switched on. Seriously, when someone arrives, they should show that they have careFIJI on their phone. If not, they must manually sign in with someone at the front –– no exceptions.
 
We understand some nightclubs have sought to obtain a new business designation as taverns in the interest of re-opening their businesses. We fully appreciate that nightclub owners have seen a severe impact to their bottom-line due to our health restrictions –– but the reality is these businesses represent the highest-risk environments for the potential spread of the virus. 
 
Moving forward, any requests from nightclubs to seek new business designations will be approved on a case-by-case basis, with compulsory input from the Ministry of Health. Our teams need to ensure these venues can operate in a COVID-safe manner before any new designation can be considered and they can re-open their doors.
 
Globally, countries have introduced protocols for diplomatic travel. Fiji has allowed diplomats to return to Fiji on a case-by-case basis and we will continue to do so.
 
Valid permit holders may also be permitted to return to Fiji on a case-by-case basis. We are also selectively granting new permits on a case-by-case basis for individuals who possess specialised skills that aid Fiji’s COVID-safe economic recovery. Existing and new permit holders must apply to the Permanent Secretary for Immigration to enter Fiji.
 
All applications for returning diplomats and permit holders –– old and new –– are subject to vetting by the Ministry of Health.
 
Travel arrangements for all travellers entering Fiji are designed entirely around preserving public health and wellbeing. All individuals must clear a negative test result for the virus before boarding their flight –– something we call a pre-departure test. That test result must be reviewed and approved by the Ministry of Health before the traveller departs for Fiji. Some may be required to test again upon arrival based on assessment of risk by the Ministry of Health. These individuals must then spend at least 14 days in a government-designated quarantine facility. After the quarantine period, individuals must clear another negative COVID test result –– something we call a border quarantine exit test –– before entering the country.
 
Non-citizens will be required to bear all costs related to quarantine and testing. Our entry and testing requirements are detailed on the Fijian Government’s website.
 
As we’ve said before, we understand this pandemic’s economic impacts, such as joblessness, can be just as dangerous as the direct health impacts of COVID-19. As recently stated by the Director General of the World Health Organisation “We do not need to choose between lives and livelihoods, or between health and the economy. That’s a false choice. On the contrary, the pandemic is a reminder that health and the economy are inseparable”.
 
Our Blue lanes initiative continues to operate safely and successfully. As of yesterday, 66 yachts have been approved under this initiative, with more yachts and superyachts on the way. To ensure superyachts can function properly, we’re allowing for crew changes.  That means crew are being flown in to Fiji to join superyachts, allowing these vessels to be properly run and maintained for months at sea in Fiji.
 
Again, the requirements for entry into Fiji are strict. All crew must clear a pre-departure test, spend 14 days in quarantine, and then clear a border quarantine exit test.

We previously announced that travellers from Australia and New Zealand would be allowed to board flights to Fiji through two pathways. One, they could spend 14 days of quarantine in their home country, clear a negative COVID test and arrive in Fiji. Or they could clear a negative COVID test, spend 14 days of quarantine in a Fijian Government quarantine facility, and then embark through our VIP lanes to one of our specially designated resorts to begin their Bula Bubble vacation.
 
Unfortunately, due to new outbreaks of COVID-19, the Australian and New Zealand governments cannot certify home quarantine for potential travellers to Fiji, so we’ve closed that pathway for the time being. Otherwise, the Bula Bubble will continue to function as designed, as the second pathway remains open. All incoming travellers must conduct a pre-departure test, spend their 14 days in a Fijian Government-quarantine facility, and then clear a border quarantine test to begin their vacation.

Again, no one who arrives to Fiji is exempt from 14 days of quarantine and no one can enter Fijian society unless they clear a negative test result for COVID-19. Our health personnel and disciplined forces do have the capacity to make arrangements for alternative quarantine sites. However, the individual must bear the costs of their off-site supervision by members of our disciplined forces.
 
Our COVID-Safe Economic Recovery Framework was designed to be adaptable to the realities of the “new normal” and we fully expect more amendments moving forward. Throughout that ongoing review, every Fijian can trust that every one of our decisions are based on science and in line with best global practices. 
 
To maintain Fiji’s COVID-Contained status, our vigilance is the only vaccine available to us. And we must all remain vigilant at all times. As always, we urge you to wash your hands, maintain physical distance where possible and install the careFIJI digital contact tracing application.
 
Thank you.

Latest Travel Advisory for Fiji Citizen(s)/ Fiji Residents(s)/ Other Permit Holder(s) Intending to Travel to Fiji

The Fijian government through the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) has issued the latest upgraded travel requirements relating to Fiji Citizen(s), Fiji Resident(s)/ Other Permit Holder(s) intending to travel to Fiji with immediate effect. The new test requirements include the format of the COVID – 19 test result that everyone traveling to Fiji has to adhere to. MHMS have requested that the following new procedures be implemented:

i. The Fiji Citizen(s)/ Fiji Residents(s)/ Other Permit Holder(s) must produce a recent negative COVID-19 RT-PCR or Cepheid GeneXpert (Xpert® Xpress SARS-CoV-2) test (for a nasopharyngeal sample taken not more than 72 hours before departure) following which approval will be granted to depart for Fiji.

ii. The test result must be in the form of the complete report from the laboratory that performed the test – on the laboratory letterhead. ( example attached)

iii. The Fiji Citizen(s)/ Fiji Residents(s)/ Other Permit Holder(s) with symptoms prior to boarding at port of departure will not be permitted to board the plane.

iv. All Fiji Citizen(s)/ Fiji Residents(s)/ Other Permit Holder(s) must undergo temperature and symptom check upon arrival at the airport. If symptoms are present a nasopharyngeal swab sample will be collected for a COVID-19 RT-PCR test at the cost of sponsor or individual returnee. The MHMS protocol for dealing with suspected cases will be applied. If the test is positive, he or she must remain in isolation under the care of MHMS but if the test is negative, he or she will be released to complete the mandatory quarantine in the designated Government quarantine facility. Attached below id the format of the report that Fijian authorities will be requiring all intending travellers to bring to Fiji.

v. The Fiji Citizen(s)/ Fiji Residents(s)/ Other Permit Holder(s) will be transferred from the airport to Government quarantine facility for a mandatory 14-days quarantine in a vehicle, driven by a local driver who will not come in contact with the principals and will wear Personal Protective equipment (PPE).

vi. The vehicle will be escorted by Republic of the Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) personnel from the airport to the Government quarantine facility at the cost of the sponsor or individual returnee.

vii. The 14 day quarantine period at the Government quarantine facility will be under the constant supervision of the RFMF and MHMS.

viii. While Fiji Citizen(s)/ Fiji Residents(s)/ Other Permit Holder(s) is/are in the Government quarantine facility, they must adhere to all quarantine requirements. MHMS officials will conduct regular temperature and symptom checks. If symptoms are present a nasopharyngeal swab sample will be collected for a COVID-19 RT-PCR test at the cost of sponsor or individual returnee. The MHMS protocol for dealing with suspected cases will be applied. If the test is positive, he or she must remain in isolation under the care of MHMS but if the test is negative he or she will be released to complete the mandatory quarantine.

ix. If the Fiji Citizen(s)/ Fiji Residents(s)/ Other Permit Holder(s) remain asymptomatic a nasopharyngeal swab collected at the end of the quarantine period for a COVID-19 RT-PCR test at the cost of the sponsor or the individual returnee. A negative test result will be required before release from quarantine. The sponsor or the individual returnee will meet all the cost associated to quarantine for which they must directly liaise with Government quarantine facility.

x. The MHMS will make the final determination to release the Fiji Citizen(s)/ Fiji Residents(s)/ Other Permit Holder(s) from quarantine.

Suva City Council – Expression of Interest (Public Private Partnership) – Development of Former “Raiwaqa Market Property”

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Quarantine Requirements for Foreigners and Fijian Nationals Entering Fiji – Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS)

COVID-19 test requirement

Documented proof of a negative Covid-19 test is required for all foreign nationals seeking to enter Fiji. Fijian citizens departing countries determined as a high risk for COVID-19 may also need to be tested before departure. 

Approved COVID-19 tests

Acceptable tests for COVID-19 are quantitative RT-PCR or Cepheid GeneXpert (Xpert® Xpress SARS-CoV-2). Note that other rapid point of care RT PCR, or antigen/ antibody tests are not accepted. A nasopharyngeal sample must be the sample tested.

Timing of test

The sample must be collected for testing at most 72hrs (3 days) before departure for Fiji. For example: if you are residing in country A and are booked to begin your travel to Fiji on a plane leaving on Friday July 24th – you need to have your nasopharyngeal sample taken for testing at earliest on Tuesday July 21st. In this case the result of a sample collected before Tuesday July 21st is not acceptable.

Format of test result

The negative test result must be in the form of an official result from the laboratory that conducted the test. This result should include the following information:

The laboratory letter head and laboratory contact details, patient details, type of sample collected, date of sample collection, date test was conducted, type of test conducted, lab sample number, and name of lab supervisor/staff signing off on the result.

Symptom and temperature screening

All travellers entering Fiji must undergo a temperature and symptom check by the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) officials upon arrival at the port of entry. If symptoms of COVID-19 are present a nasopharyngeal swab sample will be collected for a COVID-19 RT-PCR test at the cost of the traveller (if not a Fijian citizen) and the MHMS protocol for suspected cases will be applied. If the test is positive, he or she must remain in isolation under the care of MHMS but if the test is negative he or she will be released to complete the mandatory 14-day quarantine. 

Mandatory 14 day quarantine

All travellers into Fiji will be required to complete supervised quarantine for 14 days.

Quarantine for travellers arriving by air

Quarantine will be for at least 14 days in a government designated quarantine facility (hotels) under the direct supervision for the MHMS and Republic of Fiji Military Forces. Fijian citizens are not charged for meals, accommodation, or testing associated with quarantine. 

Regular symptom and temperature screening during quarantine

MHMS officials will conduct regular temperature and symptom checks. If symptoms of COVID-19 are present a nasopharyngeal swab sample will be collected for a COVID-19 RT-PCR test at the cost of the traveller (if not a Fijian citizen). The Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) protocol for suspected cases will be applied. If the test is positive, he or she must remain in isolation under the care of MHMS but if the test is negative he or she will be released to complete the mandatory 14 day quarantine. 

End of quarantine COVID-19 test

If the traveller remains asymptomatic during quarantine- a nasopharyngeal swab sample collected for a COVID-19 RT-PCR test with a negative test result required before release from quarantine. The cost of the test will be borne by the traveller (if not a Fijian citizen).

End.

Statement by the Acting Permanent Secretary for Health and Medical Services on New COVID-19 Case – Monday, 20 July 2020

Today we are announcing one new border quarantine case of COVID-19 – a 50-year-old female. Like the eight border quarantine cases announced since July 6th this latest case is a repatriated Fijian citizen from the flight from India that arrived on July 1st, and she is also the wife of one of the earlier announced border quarantine cases from this flight. When her husband tested positive they were both moved from the government designated quarantine facility to the isolation facility at Lautoka Hospital. 

She had tested negative on the first round of testing conducted for all passengers, but tested positive during the second round of testing. As she is a close contact of a known case it is not unexpected that she has also tested positive. She remains at the isolation facility at Lautoka Hospital and is currently asymptomatic.

This new case brings to a total of nine border quarantine cases announced since Monday 6th July –– all are repatriated Fijian citizens that arrived via the same flight from India that landed in Nadi on July 1st.

The rest of the passengers from the flight tested negative for COVID-19 during the second round of testing in Fiji. This means they all registered three negative COVID-19 test results – one before departure from India, the second soon after arrival into Fiji, and the third by the end of the mandatory 14-day quarantine period.

All the passengers on the flight were kept under strict border quarantine conditions from the moment they arrived, including completing 14 days quarantine in government designated quarantine facilities, where they are supervised by the Republic of Fiji Military Forces and screened daily for symptoms by staff from the Ministry of Health and Medical Services. They were cleared and released at the end of the 14-day quarantine period.

As an added precaution the frontline staff at the border quarantine facilities holding these passengers were also tested for COVID-19 – all have tested negative. I will again re-emphasize here: so long as our border quarantine and infection prevention control protocols are upheld there is no risk to the Fijian public from border quarantine cases.

Dr James Fong

Acting Permanent Secretary for Health and Medical Services

-ENDS-

Statement from the Acting Permanent Secretary for Health and Medical Services, Monday, 6 July 2020

Bula Vinaka. 
 
Over the past several months, Fijian citizens from around the world have steadily returned home to Fiji through a medically-rigorous system of repatriation. Upon arrival, all returning citizens are required to spend 14 days in a government-funded quarantine facility under RFMF and Ministry of Health and Medical Services supervision where they are checked daily for symptoms. They must then register a negative COVID test result before entering the public. 
 
As this process has unfolded, we’ve been well-prepared for the likelihood of COVID cases developing among repatriating citizens. But as we’ve made clear, Fiji has the infrastructure, surveillance capabilities and local testing capacities to ensure these “quarantine cases” at the border present zero risk to the general public.
 
Mandatory quarantine for all returning travelers was introduced on the 28th of March, with mandatory testing coming into effect on the 23rd of April. Since that time, no returning traveler has entered the public without undergoing the full 14 days of quarantine and clearing a negative COVID test result. All of these quarantine facilities are under constant supervision, with support from the RFMF. No one can leave until they are medically-confirmed as free of the virus –– no exceptions. 
 
On the 4th of July, Ministry of Health and Medical services personnel detected COVID-like symptoms in a 66-year-old man who returned from India for a medical procedure during day three of his mandatory 14-day quarantine. He was tested and registered a positive COVID-19 test result last night. He has since been securely and hygienically transported to Nadi Hospital, where he is being kept in isolation. He is in stable condition. 
 
His son –– who travelled with him from India –– has also been moved into isolation at Nadi Hospital. The son is not displaying any symptoms. Regardless, we’ve had him tested with results expected tomorrow. 
 
The gentleman and his son arrived in Fiji on the 1st of July. From the moment of their arrival they have remained under careful and constant medical supervision.
 
The gentleman travelled from India on board a flight with 107 other travellers. These other passengers all remain securely in quarantine. As a precaution, all are being tested for the virus.
 
Tomorrow marks 80 days since we recorded our 18th case of COVID-19. While this case technically marks case number 19, this is a “border quarantine case” which was identified and securely contained by our stringent border protection protocols. It carries no risk of entering the community.
 
This latest case is why we’ve been careful not to label Fiji as “COVID-Free”. We believe –– so long as a nation welcomes back its own citizens –– it cannot reliably claim itself free of the virus. But because Fiji’s strict border protections have functioned as designed, Fiji retains its well-earned status as a COVID-Contained country.
 
Let this latest case go to show that –– while Fiji may be free of community-based transmission of COVID-19 –– this pandemic is still raging beyond our shores. We don’t expect this to be Fiji’s last border quarantine case of COVID-19. Other countries are reporting similar cases as a matter of course. Rest assured, Fiji has built an impregnable wall of strong border controls, strict quarantine surveillance and capable healthcare monitoring between border quarantine cases and Fijian communities.
 
Thank you. 

Statement by the Hon. Prime Minister J.V. Bainimarama on COVID-19 – Sunday, 21 June 2020

Bula vinaka and a very good afternoon to you all. 

On the 19th of March, Fiji confirmed our first case of the coronavirus.

Finally faced with the same enemy we had watched devastate highly-developed nations, we put fear aside and found faith in action. That same day, we announced a complete lockdown of the Lautoka area. In the coming weeks, we locked down the greater Suva area and parts of Vanua Levu as new cases were confirmed. Nationwide, we decisively rolled out public measures –– backed by strict enforcement –– to stop COVID in its tracks. We traced every known contact of every known case. And –– as the virus surged overseas –– Fiji slowly but surely broke every known chain of transmission in the country. 

It’s now 64 days since we confirmed our last new case of the virus and well over two weeks since the last of our patients registered full recoveries and returned home to their families. With no deaths recorded, Fiji has also led the world in the most reliable metrics of testing. Our progress has come despite contending with patients who went for weeks without showing symptoms. 

But even with all we’ve learned through the long and difficult months behind us, the world’s leading medical experts will tell you; the unknowns of this virus still vastly outweigh the knowns, and what we do know is constantly evolving. 

That’s all to say: zero cases does not mean zero risks. So, rushing back to life as we knew it can’t happen. But neither can we shut Fiji off from the world forever, locking our people out of jobs and paralyzing entire industries, like tourism.  

Rather, as one of the few nations on Earth to register such resounding success against the coronavirus, it has come to Fiji to light the way towards a post-COVID society –– to show the world how we can safely live again. Not by blindly stumbling ahead, but by confidently stepping forward, vigilant to both risks and opportunities. 

So, while some of you may be tuning in to hear about an easing of restrictions, I’m not here to talk about “returning to normal”. Today marks the start of a new normal to adapt to the new world we now live in. 

Much like our campaign to adapt Fiji to the rising seas and stronger storms brought by climate change, we must build our resilience to this virus from the ground up, not with seawalls of stone or concrete, but through the way each of us live our lives. Above all, this “new normal” demands social adaptation. We need to set a new standard of care among our people for their communities, their families, their relatives, neighbours and especially, for our most vulnerable citizens –– those most at-risk from COVID-19. 

Today, we’ll be announcing “Phase 2” of Fiji’s COVID-Safe Economic Recovery, laying out a framework for long-term changes in how we can get people back in their jobs, how we revitalise our industries, how we welcome visitors back to our shores and how we progressively rebuild Fiji’s economy to its full, historic strength, all while keeping health at the forefront of every decision. 

To keep pace with the ever-changing state of global affairs and remain in line with the best available medical information, this framework is flexible. New rules can come into play at any time, as has been the case from day one. 

This afternoon, I’ll be giving you a general overview of Phase 2. But all of the details of each phase, including every new business policy and border control, will be published in full online –– be sure to look to the Fijian Government’s website and Facebook page for more. A press briefing will be held later this afternoon with representatives from our entire COVID-Safe Economic Recovery Team, including our  health experts, to provide further detail and answer any questions you may  have.  


Our Ministry Economy has been working intimately with the ministries of Health and Medical Services, Commerce, Trade, Tourism and Transport, business houses and various organisations to guide this COVID-Safe framework, and will continue to do so in overarching collaboration with our medical experts to ensure health compliance in the days, weeks, and months ahead. 

We’ve tied this next phase of our COVID response to the launch of the careFIJI App, a powerful new tool that allows us to notify users if they are exposed to the coronavirus. This App forms the foundation of Phase 2 of our recovery, and of the new normal we’re working to create. 

As you know, the practice of contact tracing was critical to Fiji’s success in breaking the chains of COVID-transmission. But much of that effort led by our contact tracing teams relied on people’s memories.

I’d ask all those watching to try and think of every person they’ve spent 15 minutes or more with over the past 28 days–– it’s difficult, isn’t it? careFIJI makes it easy. 

We’ll be playing a video after my remarks to explain exactly how it works. But, essentially, careFIJI uses Bluetooth technology on our phones to make contact tracing much faster and more accurate. It’s built on the very same technology that both Singapore and Australia have used to launch their own contact-tracing apps.

So, God forbid another COVID-positive person is among the public, if they have careFIJI installed, this App will allow the Ministry of Health and Medical Services to quickly notify any other careFIJI users who have been in contact with that individual.

If used by enough people, this will “break the chain” in a faster, more highly-targeted way. This would allow Fiji to limit the need for broader public health measures, like lockdowns. 

And careFIJI will do far more than make our contact tracing more efficient and effective. It will instill a sense of confidence in other countries –– showing the world, and our tourists, that Fiji is perhaps the safest nation on Earth to live, work, and holiday in. It will bring back lost jobs of our friends and neighbours. It will restore lost income, and put us back on track to economic greatness. That peace of mind has the potential to be the most powerful marketing campaign in Fijian history. 

But the success of this App ultimately rests in the hearts and hands of every Fijian. So I cannot stress enough –– the easiest way that you can help save lives and livelihoods, and to show that you care for Fiji’s recovery, is to download careFIJI and keep your Bluetooth turned on at all times.

If you have a smartphone, open Google Playstore or the Apple App store, search for careFIJI –– you’ll see the same logo like those around me now –– download it now, and switch on your Bluetooth. And just like that, you’ve already done your part to help return to a new normal. 

Because the App uses Bluetooth and not data for its core function, careFIJI itself takes almost no data to use once it’s installed. careFIJI is designed to be as easy, secure, and hassle-free as possible.

And if you’re worried about the data this App will use to install, don’t be. It takes around 10 megabytes to install the App. Once you do, thanks to an agreement struck by the Ministry of Communications, both Vodafone and Digicel have agreed to reimburse their customers with ten times that amount –– 100 megabytes –– free of charge. 

Our digitalFIJI team has developed a dedicated website which provides additional information about the careFIJI app. You can visit the website data-free by going to www-dot-carefiji-dot-digitalfiji-dot-gov-dot-fj.

Most of our public interactions take place in the workplace, wherever that may be. Especially for those of us working indoors for extended periods of time, our places of work can pose a serious risk, that’s why working Fijians must download careFIJI. 

Government is leading that push through example by mandating that all users of government issued phones, members of the disciplined forces, and users with phones issued by government-funded statutory bodies, download the careFIJI App. 

Entities in which the government holds an interest and social welfare recipients, other government assistance beneficiaries as well as civil servants should all download careFIJI. We’ll also be working closely with our private sector partners, particularly those in key economic sectors with large staff numbers, to encourage uptake of the App. 

But that’s not all the rigour Phase 2 demands. We’re asking every business, of every size and across every industry, to be leaders in your respective fields by drawing up their own gameplans for running safe, COVID-proofed operations. Every business in Fiji has the responsibility of adhering to our COVID-safe protocols, which have been comprehensively outlined, by industry, in the framework that will be posted online.

We aren’t sending the police to every workplace in the country to enforce these policies, this strategy relies on self-regulation –– it relies on businesses stepping up and doing the right thing for their customers and for their country. But if businesses aren’t complying, we won’t hesitate to go back on the easing of restrictions. 

In Phase 2, our nationwide curfew will remain in effect, but to allow for more economic activity and freedom of movement, it will now be enforced from 11pm and lifted at 4am. This is not just a matter of health, but a matter of public wellbeing. We’ve heard from countless Fijians, asking that the curfew be kept, saying that they feel safer with these restrictions. 

For that reason, effective from tomorrow, Monday, the 22nd of June, the Fiji Police Force will be enforcing curfew from the hours of 11pm until 4am. That revised curfew will remain in effect until further notice.

For many of the same reasons, nightclubs will stay closed.   

At the moment, gatherings of more than 20 people are banned. We had good reason to do so, as mass gatherings have been epicentres of outbreaks the world over. From Monday, the 22nd of June, we’ll be relaxing this restriction, allowing for gatherings up to 100 individuals. For the time being, this 100-person limit will apply to weddings, funerals, cafes, restaurants, conferences and other community gatherings. 

And all throughout Fiji, we need to start gathering not as large, uncontrolled masses, but as self-contained groupings.

I know our COVID restrictions have been difficult for Fijians of all faiths, as we often look to our religion to find comfort in times of contention and suffering. Meanwhile, across the world, we’ve seen large-scale outbreaks start in houses of worship, as families and friends greet, gather, and embrace –– and we couldn’t let the same fate befall Fiji. 

That’s why, over the past months, I’ve been proud to see Fijian Christians, Hindus, Muslims, and all worshippers find new ways to connect with God, even as some of the holiest days of religious calendars have passed. I thank religious leaders and their congregations for their understanding and leadership through these times, and in the weeks ahead, we will look to you for continued guidance as we adjust to the new normal. 

Effective from Friday, the 26th of June, we’re allowing houses of worship to re-open their doors to 100 worshippers at a time. Starting tomorrow, over the next three to four days, the Ministry of Health and Medical Services will be meeting with religious leaders to talk about how the “new normal” will look in houses of worship, and how they can adapt to protect Fijians who come to them. Science shows serious risks in houses of worship because of the close proximity, the intimacy of congregations and practices such as indoor singing –– so we’ll be working hand-in-hand with our churches, mosques, and temples to explain and limit these unique challenges.  

Because now more than ever, houses of worship need to be not a source of risk, but of refuge.

We are asking each church, mosque, and temple to share the burden of responsibility, and look after your worshippers with the same duty of care that is at the centre of all our efforts. Set up hand-washing stations. Limit physical contact, encourage distancing measures and consider holding more services to ensure adherence to the 100-person limit. And please, as the world continues to grapple with the pandemic and Fijians find themselves out of work, pray for relief and continued protection from COVID-19. 

There are over 238,000 students in Fijian schools across the country That’s larger than the population of many of Pacific Island countries. 

We didn’t rush back to reopening schools for good reason. Medical experts initially suspected children were some of the fastest spreaders of the virus. The latest studies have shown children aren’t the super-spreaders the experts initially thought they were, but they are not completely risk-free. So,  we needed to rethink the way we educate our children, by COVID-proofing our education system as much as possible. 

Our plan to reopen schools has catered for a realigned school curriculum, ensuring that all of Fiji’s schools are on the same page. It simply wouldn’t be fair for children in different schools to be disadvantaged just because of where they live, and which school they attend, whether public or private. 

That’s why we’ve taken the time to address our re-opening for the remainder of the 2020 school year with particular care, and will be resuming education in two stages:

To safely ease back into the academic calendar and give our school leaders the space to adjust, Year 12 and Year 13 students in our secondary schools will start classes on Tuesday, 30 June. This will allow them to get back into preparing for their exams –– a top priority to avoid longer-term disruption. Tertiary institutions as well can open for face-to-face classes from 30 June. 

The rest of the primary and secondary schools –– as well as early childhood education –– will open one week later, on Monday, the 6th of July.

Principals, teachers, and school management will be responsible for COVID-proofing their schools, practicing the healthy habits that we have embraced in every corner of COVID-safe economic recovery. Further details will be outlined by the Ministry of Education at the press briefing later today. 

Gyms, fitness centres and swimming pools –– both public pools and those at hotels –– will be permitted to re-open from Monday, the 22nd of June. Operators must keep these facilities clean and maintain contact tracing information for every person who uses their facilities by checking for careFIJI installation and keeping a manual log for those who don’t have smartphones.

Contact sports simply weren’t safe when community-based transmission posed a threat. With Fiji’s outbreak contained, we can safely reclaim our status as the beating heart of world rugby, and welcome back football, boxing and all other contact sports as well. 

Fijians are a sporting people and I know how much it means to fans across Fiji to attend games and see our athletes in action. We’ll be permitting live sporting events to resume, but with restrictions. Our formal indoor and outdoors sporting venues can host sporting events with spectators at 50 per cent capacity, so long as physical distancing is maintained within the venue. For informal sports events at the community level, the 100-person limit applies. We’ll review this policy in the very near future. Again, we look forward to the cooperation of sporting event organisers and –– I can’t stress this enough –– all spectators must download the careFIJI App. 

If any athlete at any level of play is feeling unwell, stay home.  Officials will be responsible for symptom screenings, and should not allow anyone who is sick to play. 

With the gyms back open and all sports open for play, I hope more Fijians take advantage of these opportunities to take greater ownership over their health and wellbeing.  This is a virus that preys on those with underlying health conditions, like NCDs. Healthier people handle it better and recover more reliably. I urge everyone to use this reopening to recommit to fitness. By doing so, we do some of the most important work of stepping up our people’s resilience to COVID-19.  


Our cinemas will also be able to re-open their doors from tomorrow, but under various conditions. Cinemas will be limited to 50 per cent of capacity. All groupings of theatre-goers –– friends and family members who attend and sit together –– will be required to sit 1.5 metres apart from other groupings or individuals. In between each showing, service areas need to be wiped down, seats deep cleaned and public areas must be thoroughly sanitised. 

And if you’re going to go to the movies, be prepared to quickly show your careFIJI App.

Our medical experts and economists agree: we can’t risk the health and economic losses of keeping our borders shut forever. Instead, we will carefully reopen our borders in a highly-controlled manner. By slowly and safely bringing back vital tourism revenue to Fiji, we will in fact be saving lives –– the long-term cost of complete closures and unemployment would risk doing immense harm to Fijians’ mental and physical health. This is the best way to economically adjust to the “new normal” in a way that considers all aspects of Fijians’ wellbeing. 

As Fiji’s cases have disappeared, and cases dwindle in Australia and New Zealand, we’ve been involved in serious discussions about spurring economic recovery through the reopening of regional travel. 

To lay the groundwork for integrated public health approaches critical to the reopening of our borders, Fiji’s leading medical experts –– Dr Aalisha, Dr Fong and Dr Tudravu –– are in talks with Professor Paul Kelly, Australia’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer, and are liaising with Professor Michael Baker, the Head of the University of Otago’s Public Health Department. This international, doctor-to-doctor collaboration will continue as we forge forward. 

While Australia and New Zealand work out their Trans-Tasman bubble, Fiji’s equal –– or arguably, greater –– success against the virus puts us in a position to take the lead in the Pacific. We’re working on our own bubble –– a “Bula Bubble”,  between Fiji, New Zealand and Australia. 

Working with Fiji Airways and Tourism Fiji, we’ll be welcoming Aussies and Kiwis to holiday in Fiji in a manner that is carefully controlled and safely insulated. Everywhere they go will be wholly dedicated to others who match the same criteria, safely guided by what we’re calling “VIP lanes” –– allowing them to Vacation In Paradise.  

To come to Fiji, Australian and New Zealand tourists can do one of the following:

Option One: Intending travellers must present a certificate from a recognised medical institution certifying their 14 days of quarantine in their home country, along with proof of a negative COVID test result within 48 hours of their departure for Fiji, at which point they can immediately start their “Bula Bubble” holiday within confined VIP lanes. 

OR

Option Two: Upon arrival in Fiji, they  can complete 14 days of quarantine at their own cost in a Fijian Government-designated quarantine centre or a hotel of their choosing, after which a negative COVID test can clear them to start their “Bula Bubble” vacation.  

This Bula Bubble will allow Aussies and Kiwis to once again enjoy the best of Fiji, while remaining separate from any other travellers and the general public. 

To be clear, any tourist who comes to Fiji on these terms still won’t be able to move freely throughout the country. All of their movement will be contained within the VIP lanes, starting on the airplane, then from the Nadi Airport onto designated transport to their designated resort or hotel, where they’ll remain throughout their stay.

We’re currently identifying geographically-isolated resorts that are the best fit for the “Bula Bubble”. Fiji Airways, in collaboration with Tourism Fiji and the Ministry of Commerce, Trade, Tourism and Transport will announce more details in due course. 

We’re also establishing “Pacific Pathways”, starting with all travellers from Tuvalu, Kiribati and Tonga. As the only sovereign nation with a WHO-certified testing lab and the heart of Pacific aviation, Fiji is poised to become a safely-regulated quarantine hub for Pacific countries. 

The Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Tourism, Fiji Airways and our medical experts are now liaising with governments to allow travellers from Tuvalu, Kiribati and Tonga to fly into Fiji. Upon arrival, they must spend 14 days in Fijian government quarantine facilities and then pass a COVID-19 test to enter society, both at their own cost or the cost of their respective government. As our risk assessments evolve, we may expand this arrangement to Samoa, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

All Pacific Pathway flights will be run by Fiji Airways with adherence to their new “Travel Ready” protocols –– that means staff will be wearing masks, health and wellness will be managed by newly established on-board personnel, and planes will be regularly sanitised. Passengers will also be health screened prior to boarding flights –– those showing symptoms will not board. Passengers will be screened again on arrival –– those showing symptoms will be isolated and tested for the virus. 

Fiji Airways has published a detailed framework of every precaution they will be taking before boarding, in-flight, and after landing to minimise any risks; that will also be published on the Fijian Government’s website.

Opening Pacific Pathways isn’t simply about tourism or economic benefit. This is about rekindling the bonds between Pacific people, reconnecting friends, reuniting families and giving the wider world a hopeful glimpse of how we can safely meet again, beyond COVID-19. 

Around the world, yachts and pleasure craft are looking to return to Fiji. This is especially true now, with New Zealand currently in the winter season. As those in our hospitality sector know, these ships –– particularly super yachts –– produce immense economic value for Fiji.

Being alone at sea is a verifiable, self-contained quarantine. That means anyone coming by pleasure craft to Fiji, so long as they haven’t interacted with others, are very low-risk, but their economic impact is very high-reward. 

That’s why Fiji will also be establishing safe “blue lanes”, open to those yachts and pleasure craft sailing to Fiji. But the requirements are strict. 

Any boat coming to Fiji will be carefully considered on a case-by-case basis. To start, the only port of entry will be Port Denarau Marina. If this pilot project and if successful, we will consider extending blue lanes to other ports and marinas.

Those eligible to sail to Fiji fall under two categories, both of which will require them to be tested in another country before departing.

-If their journey to Fiji will take 14 days or longer uninterrupted at sea, once they dock in Fiji and show proof of a negative test result, everyone on board will be screened by the Ministry of Health for symptoms. If they’re deemed to be healthy, their yacht will be allowed to freely visit other ports throughout Fiji.

-Alternatively, those with a journey at sea shorter than 14 days will be required to make up the difference in quarantine once they dock in Fiji at their own cost. So, say they spend eight days alone at sea –– they will then be required to pay for six days of quarantine in Fiji, after which they can be cleared by a negative test result, also at their own cost. 

There’s already been a great deal of enthusiasm shown for ideas like this one. In fact, interest has been expressed in using the Pacific for travel, maintenance, and stocking in the build up to the 36th America’s Cup next year, in which Fiji could be used as a safe “parking lot” until the start of the start of cyclone season. 

Cruise ships, meanwhile, are still strictly banned.

We expect New Zealand to soon return to zero-case status and Australia to see more success at containing the spread of the virus. 

I want to stress “contained” as the key word here –– because as the pandemic rages around the world, until we have a globally-available vaccine, no country can truly claim to be truly “COVID-free” so long as it allows its citizens to return to their home country. Meanwhile, we can aim for the next best thing: absolute containment. So long as those entering Fiji pose no risk to the public at large, we will remain COVID-contained –– and we have established a new COVID Risk Mitigation Taskforce to carefully determine which other countries meet the same rigorous standards. 

Travellers from countries which earn this status will be allowed to enter Fiji without spending time in quarantine, so long as they present a negative COVID-19 test result within 48 hours of travelling to Fiji. 

But let me be clear: as of now, under the rigorous criteria established by our medical experts, which considers key testing metrics, we consider Fiji to be the only COVID-contained country in the Pacific. So for the time being, strict quarantine restrictions and testing requirements will remain for travellers from every country entering Fiji. 

If either Australia or New Zealand becomes COVID-contained, the quarantine requirements for travelers from that country will be lifted, and movement can expand beyond these bubbles to everywhere else in Fiji.  

We’re also granting special consideration for Fijian citizens, Fiji residents and Fiji permit holders currently in Australia and New Zealand to return home to Fiji. 

From tomorrow, Monday, the 22nd of June, Fijian citizens and Fiji residents in Australia and New Zealand will be permitted to travel to Fiji only after passing through a net of new safety measures. 

These are the options for returning residents and citizens:

One: Intending travellers must present a certificate from a recognised medical institution certifying their 14 days of quarantine in Australia or New Zealand, along with proof of a negative COVID test result within 48 hours of their departure for Fiji. Once you arrive, you will then spend another seven days in home quarantine in Fiji. 

Or, two: if you haven’t done your quarantine in Australia or New Zealand but have been tested, you can present a negative COVID-test result within 48 hours of travel and, on arrival to Fiji and spend 14 days in a government-designated quarantine centre. You can then go straight home if you are symptom-free. 

Regardless if you’re a returning Fijian citizen or Fiji resident, and regardless of whether you arrive by air or sea, you must download the careFIJI App to enter the country. If you don’t have a smartphone, you can buy one upon landing at Nadi airport for as little as $100. My advice is simple: if you come to Fiji, bring a smartphone or buy a smartphone and download careFIJI. 

Our COVID-19 Risk Mitigation Taskforce will also be considering special requests that promise immense economic value. We’re talking about projects that are exceptionally risk-free, but also exceptionally high-reward.

So, say you’re a billionaire looking to fly your own jet, rent your own island, and invest millions of dollars in Fiji in the process –– if you’ve taken all the necessary precautions requested by the Ministry of Health and Medical Services and borne all associated costs, you may have a new home to escape the pandemic in paradise. 

In recent years, we’ve established Fiji as something of a “Hollywood of the Pacific”, with a film and television industry bringing hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity, and invaluable exposure to the world. Seeing Fiji’s pristine beaches on shows like Survivor or Love Island can be more powerful than any advertisement.  

When COVID-19 forced the industry to shut, it wasn’t just a blow to the millions of viewers around the world who await these hit shows in anxious anticipation –– it was a blow to the hundreds of Fijians who work as crew on set, and the communities that production companies have forged loving relationships with over the years. 

But as we return to a “new normal”, we’re also rekindling hope for Fiji’s vital film and television industry. We’ll be taking similar steps to New Zealand, who has moved to safely resume production of the sequel to Avatar.

Again, this will be done in a completely safe and controlled manner. Cast and crew won’t even be allowed to board their plane without proof of a negative COVID-19 test, and will be screened for symptoms both before boarding and upon landing. They’ll then be entered into government-designated quarantine –– whether that’s a preapproved hotel or a remote isolated island –– for the mandatory 14-day period.

Absolutely all quarantine and testing costs will be borne by the production company.

Friends, Fiji –– and the Pacific as a whole –– is in a coveted position at a consequential moment in history. As a region, we are a pocket of hope in a world devastated by this pandemic. Pacific Islands in particular have the opportunity to set the bar in safely navigating the international community through COVID-19. We have earned the right to be seen on equal footing with our larger regional neighbours. 

Australia is working diligently to take control of the virus, while New Zealand is already extremely close to being COVID-contained. Soon, we’ll have the chance to make the Pacific’s future an inclusive one, defined by revived relationships and safe avenues of economic growth, or one that looks inwards, and deepens inequality. 

The eyes of the world are on us. They are on the Pacific; they are on New Zealand; they are on Australia. And they are on the example we set, together, in charting these unknown waters. 

Fiji is leading in building a COVID-safe economic recovery. But that effort depends on every Fijian watching today, along with everyone they know doing their bit. 

By now, you should already have the careFIJI App downloaded onto your phone. If not, download it now. Help us get people back in their jobs, help us restore some measure of normalcy to our lives, help our doctors do their jobs at keeping us safe, and help get Fiji –– and the Fijian economy –– on the road to recovery.  

I’d like to end by extending perhaps the most deserved “vinaka vakalevu” in Fiji’s history to our healthcare heroes. 

Vinaka to our contact tracing team, our doctors, nurses, medical staff, and everyone working overtime at the Ministry of Health and Medical Services. 

Vinaka to our firefighters who have sanitised buildings, and to our first responders who balanced responding to both COVID-19 and Cyclone Harold.

Vinaka to our disciplined forces, to RFMF for helping us rapidly conduct contact tracing, and to the Police Force for enforcing curfew hours and other directives we put in place to keep Fijians safe and healthy.  

Vinaka to our Ministry of Economy team, who quickly put together a COVID-response budget just one week after our first case, and to those at the ministries of Economy, Commerce, Trade, Tourism, Transport and Health and Medical Services –– who alongside our private sector partners –– helped to establish our COVID-Safe Economic Recovery framework. 

Vinaka to our careFIJI app development team from digitalFIJI, who have played a central role in bringing our containment efforts into the future.

Vinaka to leaders of our various private sector partners, including the financial institutions who have worked with the  Reserve Bank of Fiji and the Fijian Government, for showing that we can get through any hardship by working together.  

Vinaka to every Fijian of every age who visited our fever clinics, washed their hands, practiced physical distancing, and demonstrated the virtues of patience and responsibility in combating this deadly disease. 

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for all you’ve done, and will continue to do, to protect Fijian families from this pandemic. 

I ask that every Fijian honour their hard work and sacrifice by downloading careFIJI, by continuing to practice the healthy habits that have been at the core of our success, and to keep each other responsible as we adapt to this new normal. 

Vinaka vakalevu, thank you, and God bless Fiji.