Statement by the Hon. Prime Minister J.V. Bainimarama on COVID-19 – Friday, 15 May 2020

Bula vinaka. 
 
Back on the 18th of April, we clinically confirmed our 18th case of COVID-19. This was in the midst of our response to the devastation of severe Cyclone Harold, which had ripped across our islands the week prior, levelling homes and flooding communities.
 
With two national disasters threatening the lives of Fijians at once, Fiji was faced with a dilemma the likes of which we’d never seen. We declared two simultaneous States of Natural Disaster, kicking off a month-long, whole-of-government campaign to assist those in the path of the storm’s wrath without compromising any of our life-saving progress in our war against the coronavirus.
 
By adapting our cyclone response to the reality of COVID-19, we’ve saved lives on the frontlines of both existential threats. Even as Fijians evacuated their communities and authorities dispatched to badly-hit regions during TC Harold, not a single case of coronavirus was spread as a result of the storm. And this week, following these achievements, these States of Natural Disaster have not been extended. 
 
If no new cases are recorded tomorrow, that will mark four full weeks without a new case of COVID-19. The experts tell us those 28 days represent two full incubation periods for the coronavirus. That means that over this period, if the virus was passed to any close contacts of our existing patients, our tests would confirm it. Even as we’ve continued to conduct over 1,000 more tests over these four weeks, every morning, every one of those tests has come back negative. On top of that victory, we’re also confirming our 15th full recovery of the virus, meaning only three active cases remain. 
 
Fiji is now well on our way to eliminating COVID-19 entirely, and we’re one of the few nations on Earth who can make that claim. Our progress has come not from fortune, but through foresight; every step taken was swift, every decision made was decisive, and every success we’ve recorded has been well-earned. 
 
But much as this feels like a moment of celebration –– as it should –– the end of these declarations does not mean Fiji is entirely rid of this virus. We still have Fijians in government funded quarantine facilities who could yet develop the disease. As tight as our safety nets may be –– there is always a chance that an asymptomatic case has slipped through undetected. We have no evidence to suggest this is the case, but it is still a risk we must consider, because all it takes is one case, one super-spreader, to provoke a Fijian epidemic of COVID-19. 
 
From the beginning, we’ve armed ourselves with only the best available medical information. As the medical community’s knowledge of this virus has evolved, so has our response. It would be easy for me to stand here today and declare total victory over this virus. It would be easy to say this war has been completely won and roll-back every health protection directive in one fell-swoop. But we can never settle for “easy” with a virus this devastating and unpredictable. We have no choice but to continue treating this invisible enemy with deadly seriousness. 
 
As I speak, China is already seeing a second wave of infections and Europe is bracing for the same. We cannot risk a second wave of Fijian infections; that is why, for the time being, all of our health protection directives will remain in full effect. 
 
The nationwide curfew will remain in effect from 10 pm until 5 am every day. Social gatherings must be limited to 20 people or fewer. Gyms, nightclubs, cinemas and swimming pools will remain closed, as will houses of worship. Contact sports are still not allowed to be played. Our schools will remain closed as well until the 12th of June 2020.  Existing quarantine protocols will remain in place, including for Fijians returning overseas. These repatriating Fijians will immediately enter 14 days of quarantine in government funded facilities. At the end of the 14 day period, if they test negative for the virus, they can complete their remaining 14 days of self-quarantine at home.
 
In the coming weeks, we will finalise our game plan for a gradual scale-back of some of these measures. But I want to be crystal clear with every person watching: No matter how confident we are that this virus has been defeated, our most critical restrictions aren’t going anywhere. The good habits that we’ve picked up over the past few months –– physical distancing, regular handwashing, staying home or wearing face masks when we’re sick, not sharing takis and bilos, and keeping a clean working environment –– must become new ways of Fijian life. We cannot risk falling back into life-risking bad habits. To keep Fiji healthy, and to prevent a dangerous second wave of the virus, these new healthy habits must stick. 
 
And even as we explore ways we can safely scale back restrictions, we’re also stepping up our virus containment. We’ve already health screened over 800,000 Fijians through the largest healthcare mobilisation campaign in Fijian history, in the coming weeks we will massively step-up testing as well. We are also actively looking at new and innovative ways to prevent a resurgence of the disease. 
 
Under the digitalFIJI initiative, a mobile app called “careFIJI” has been developed that will harness our phones’ Bluetooth technology to make any future contact tracing faster, easier, and more effective. And it will do so all while protecting the privacy of the user.
 
If enough Fijians use careFIJI, we’ll be able to avoid large-scale lockdowns entirely. More importantly, widespread adoption of careFIJI will help save lives, bring back jobs, and increase confidence among our tourism and trading partners.
 
This app comes from the very same technology that has been widely adopted by millions of Singaporeans and Australians in their own fights to contain the virus –– meaning that its success will help pave the way to safely re-opening our borders to visitors. When that day comes, tourists will be able to download careFIJI upon landing, giving them the confidence that Fiji has COVID-19 firmly under control.
 
We’re aiming to launch a pilot programme of the app as soon as we get approval from the Android PlayStore and Apple AppStore. We need you –– every Fijian listening to this address –– to download this app when it’s available, just as we need you to continue to adhere to every one of our life-saving directives –– because your government cannot win this war alone. Your government cannot make you wash your hands. Your government cannot force you to bring your own bilos to kava sessions. Your government cannot inspect inside your homes to ensure they are clean. We will continue to give advice and directives led by the best available science, but ultimately, it’s up to you to stop the spread. Each of you must choose to make Fiji COVID-free. 
 
Much of the rest of the world is still in the grips of widespread viral outbreaks, meaning the coronavirus-fuelled collapse of the world economy will likely get worse before it begins to relent. Like most other nations Fiji is deeply connected with the rest of the world, and like most other economies, our businesses, industries and citizens have been affected. Early next week, the Minister for Economy will announce the second round of COVID-19 unemployment benefits to be paid out –– in partnership with FNPF –– to aid those Fijians whose employers have been severely impacted by this crisis. We are also closely monitoring and working with business in various sectors and financial institutions to provide targeted support. 
 
The coronavirus is the challenge of our generation. If our campaign presses onwards to total victory, when the history books recount the difficulty of this period, they will tell of how Fijians led the way in beating this virus for good. And around the world, as the larger war against this virus rages on, I hope our friends and partners can take comfort from what’s been achieved in Fiji. The right path isn’t always the easy one. But our success has shown that if you respect the science and act decisively, this virus can be beaten. Contact tracing saves lives. Stopping mass gatherings saves lives. Staying home saves lives. Changing behaviour, from how we shop, to how we travel, to how often we wash our hands, all saves lives. Entering patients into quarantine and isolation may not always be easy, but it saves lives as well. And if we want the world to rid itself of this virus, I urge leaders, businesses, and ordinary people to stay the course, do what must be done to avoid needless death and suffering –– and instead, set Fiji, and the rest of the global community on the course to health and economic recovery. 
 
Vinaka vakalevu. Thank you and God bless you all. 

Statement by the Hon. Prime Minister, J.V. Bainimarama on TC Harold and COVID-19 Measures – Friday, 24 April 2020

Bula Vinaka. 

Since my last update on Fiji’s recovery from Cyclone Harold and COVID-19, we’ve made great progress in both fronts.

Assistance has made its way to the hardest-hit areas across Fiji, with thousands of food ration packs and other supplies being delivered to even the most remote corners of the country. 

And our on-the-ground assessment of TC Harold’s devastation is showing just how hard-hit some of these communities and islands are. NDMO’s latest survey now shows that 635 homes across the country were destroyed by the storm, with over 2,100 suffering damage. 

Under our Rural Housing Assistance programme, the Ministry of Housing and Community Development is working to provide relief to high-need households as quickly as possible. As has been the case in the wake of previous cyclones, we’ll be subsidising the cost of government-procured building materials for eligible households –– those making less than $15,000 a year -– on a one-third, two-thirds basis.

Alternately, those applying for assistance can cover the cost of all building materials, but pay more affordable rates thanks to government bulk-buying, and then have those discounted materials delivered to them with all shipping costs covered –– even in our most remote maritime communities. Trees felled by the cyclone are also being repurposed into timber that will be provided free-of-charge for impacted homes by the Ministry of Forestry.

For anyone benefiting from this programme who cannot secure carpenters of their own, the Ministry of Housing and Community Development’s carpentry team –– assisted by the Public Rental Board –– will be provided free of charge for repairs and reconstruction. They will also be assisting with building plans to ensure the new homes are cyclone-resilient, and they’ll also be carrying out site inspections to keep everything up to standard.

But as we rebuild from this storm, we are seeing a rise in illnesses that have the potential to prove deadlier than the storm itself –– those that thrive in the wet environments left behind by tropical cyclones. That’s why the Ministry of Health is now launching a door-to-door campaign to combat LTDD: Leptospirosis, Typhoid, Dengue, and Diarrhea. 

So while coronavirus will dominate headlines, we also need to stay alert of these other ailments, as they can also kill. But unlike COVID-19, we’ve dealt with these challenges before –– and experience has taught us that public cooperation is critical to keeping Fijians healthy. That’s why, if an official from the Ministry of Health visits your door to check for symptoms, we need to remain just as diligent as we have during our nationwide COVID screening efforts. 

This said, coronavirus is still public enemy number one, and I’m sure it’s what is on the top of all of your minds today. Since this Monday, the 20th of April, we’ve tested 114 more samples for COVID-19, and all have returned negative –– meaning that again, we have zero new cases to report. Our health screening effort in Ba is progressing extremely well. Nationwide, we’ve restocked with thousands of COVID-19 tests –– a step critical to boosting confidence in the success of our containment efforts. 

Since our first cases were confirmed in Fiji, the first question I’ve asked our health team in our morning COVID-19 briefings has been the same: “How are our patients?” And for weeks, the answer has remained the same –– “they are in stable condition”. While this was always welcome news, it still left me, and all Fijians, anxious for their wellbeing. 

Only in the past few days have our patients begun finally testing negative for the virus. Today, I’m grateful to announce that 10 of our 18 patients have made full recoveries from the virus. So now, there are eight active cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Fiji –– meaning that, for the first time, more Fijians have recovered than are currently still living with the virus. 

Our nation has prayed for these recoveries, our healthcare heroes have provided the weeks of care-giving it’s taken to heal these Fijians, and –– given the vast unknowns surrounding coronavirus –– we are all grateful to see them cleared to leave isolation. I applaud every Fijian responsible for aiding these recoveries and delivering us this beacon of hope. 

But as relieved as we all are, we must still reckon with some sobering realities. 

No confirmed case of coronavirus in Fiji has been in a person over the age of 65. Most of our patients have had no underlying health conditions. We know that these factors –– age and health –– are directly linked to a patient’s chances of survival. 

My point is, in Fiji, so far we have been blessed by demographics, and more vulnerable Fijians have been spared. But if we lull ourselves into complacency, that could all too tragically change. Across the world, over 186,000 lives have been lost to this virus. Every day, tens of thousands more add to the total. We cannot allow Fiji to fall victim to the same fate.

We’ve all seen a sevens side –– after a comfortable half-time lead –– go on to lose the game because they got cocky, let their guard down, and failed to see victory through to its end. Well, the stakes of this virus are far higher than a rugby match –– they are life or death. I’ve said many times before: We are at war with COVID-19. We must stay vigilant. We must stay disciplined. We must keep ourselves one step ahead of this killer virus.

If we keep the course, we will be able to confidently rank ourselves among the nations leading the world in stomping out coronavirus. Our success so far leaves us reason for cautious optimism. We have isolated every close contact of every case of the virus in our country –– a world-leading feat. Of the over 900 samples we’ve tested in Fiji –– only two per cent have returned positive, compared from up to 19% or even higher in harder-hit countries. 

Every decision we have made has been informed by the best available science and the direction of our medical experts –– and our adherence to health advice will continue to guide every step we take. Operating with caution and armed with good information, we have identified a few safe ways we can return some measure of normalcy to our society. 

But it’s important we match any relaxation of health protection directives with greater diligence in our day to day lives. That is why I am declaring this weekend as Fiji’s Weekend of Readiness and Responsibility. Through the weekend, we need to see Fijians take greater ownership over our containment measures. As we see that happen, we plan to gradually scale back a handful of our health protection measures. 

From the evening of Saturday the 25th of April, which is tomorrow, the nationwide curfew will begin at 10pm and go until 5am. From Sunday the 26th of April we will resume all passenger inter-island travel, by air and sea. And from Monday, the 27th of April, we will allow social gatherings of 20 people or fewer. 

Nightclubs, swimming pools, cinemas, and gyms will all continue to remain closed. Houses of worship, as well, will remain closed until further notice. Our schools will remain closed as well until the 12th of June 2020. 

Our Weekend of Readiness and Responsibility starts with our LTDD campaign. Every Fijian should spend this weekend tracking down breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Empty out containers, tyres or rubbish that hold water. And if medical teams conduct screenings in your area, cooperate. 

From Sunday morning, as inter-island travel resumes, all transportation vehicles, whether that’s taxis, mini-buses,  buses, boats or planes, are encouraged to provide hand sanitiser to passengers upon boarding, and members of the public are encouraged to wear masks while travelling. 

Through the weekend, all of our advice remains in effect. Physical distancing of two metres should be maintained at all times. Do not share cigarettes, or takis or bilos during grog sessions. Limit unnecessary person-to-person contact as much as humanly possible. 

And, as health screening efforts continue across the country, all Fijians should cooperate with our medical teams for the few easy minutes it takes to be screened –– whether that’s for LTTD or COVID-19. 

Through the weekend, our coronavirus testing will press ahead. If even one new case is detected, our most stringent health protection measures will snap right back into place. 

As we see some of our restrictions lifted, it’s vital the Fijian public go about their lives responsibly, in ways that do not compromise the practice of physical distancing and put Fijian lives at risk. If we do, I’m confident we can welcome back these freedoms without giving ground in the campaign against this virus. 

Vinaka vakalevu. God bless you all. 

ADVISORY: Fiji Airways Flight from Narita-Nadi – Saturday, 25 April 2020

Fiji Airways has confirmed that there will be a flight from Narita to Nadi on Saturday, 25 April 2020. Interested individuals can book tickets online at www.fijiairways.com or by calling the airline’s Reservation Center on +679 672 0888 or +679 330 4388.

Please note that individuals who are Fijian Passport holders, Fijian Citizenship Certificate holders and/or Fijian Residential Certificate holders, will only be considered for this flight.

Furthermore, as a precautionary measure in-light of COVID-19 and as per the directives of the Fijian Government, all travelers entering Fiji will be required to undertake compulsory self-quarantine of 28 days upon arrival.

Statement by the Hon. Prime Minister J.V. Bainimarama on Latest COVID-19 Case – Monday, 20 April 2020

Bula Vinaka. 

It’s now been nearly two weeks since Cyclone Harold swept over Fiji.  As lines of communication have been re-established, our aid ships have made their way to our outer islands, and our response teams have surveyed damage, the scale of the devastation is becoming more clear. 

Our agricultural sector saw over 27 million dollars of damages from the immense levels of rain and flooding throughout Fiji. More than 500 homes were destroyed, with many hundreds more suffering damage. FRA’s infrastructure network, including our roading and jetties, took a 22-million-dollar hit. Overall, more than 180,000 Fijians saw their homes, their lives and livelihoods suffer from the brunt of Harold.

But as we made clear from the start, help is on the way for affected Fijians. For many, that help has already arrived, with food rations being delivered and clean-up commenced in some of our hardest-hit areas. Electricity and water supply has been restored for most of the country. As we pick up the pieces from Harold’s wrath, we can again devote ourselves to an enemy that will last far longer than any storm –– COVID-19.  

I want to begin today by honouring the life of Mr Morotikei Mainilala, a Turaga-ni-Koro serving in Baleyaganiga Village on Vanua Levu. The police have completed their investigation of Mr Mainlala’s passing. It appears he tried to break up a public gathering –– a drinking party –– before he was brutally killed. Those suspected of involvement have been charged. 

Our ban on social gatherings exists to stop the sort of person-to-person contact that spreads the deadly coronavirus. It’s clear Mr Mainilala knew that –– and it’s why he strove to prevent his fellow Fijians from violating our health protection measures. I extend my deepest sympathies to his wife, his six children, and his community. They, and all of Fiji, have lost a responsible leader and a brave Fijian.

From Friday through today, we have tested 123 samples for the coronavirus. One test returned what we call a “soft positive” result –– meaning we couldn’t say with certainty whether this sample was positive for COVID-19. After further testing and consultations with our reference lab in Melbourne, they found that these results indicate this sample came from someone in the final stages of recovery from coronavirus. 

This, combined with a travel history from the United States last month, was enough for us to call this case “highly likely” –– and in my book, when Fijian lives are at stake, that means “positive”. So clinically, we have officially confirmed this patient –– a 51-year-old woman in Ba –– as our 18th case of COVID-19.

The patient returned from the United States on the 22nd of March. After completing 14 days of home quarantine, she was cleared. Only later did she develop COVID-like symptoms. She was then  tested, giving us the soft positive result. The results of her test make it likely this patient has been carrying COVID-19 for weeks. Luckily, our contact tracing –– which began as soon as she was first tested on the 18th of April –– identifies her as a low-risk transmitter. 

This patient shares a home with three others –– all three have tested negative for the virus. Regardless, they have all been placed in isolation. We’ve traced and identified her other casual contacts; they have all been entered into compulsory home quarantine. 

Because of the low-risk nature of this patient spreading the virus, and our ability to quickly test and contain her few close contacts, we will not be locking down Ba Town. However, our mobile teams will be conducting a large-scale screening of the entire province. As with Lautoka and Suva, public cooperation is vital to this effort –– if we don’t see sufficient numbers from these screenings, Ba will risk a total lockdown. 

We’re also introducing new health protection measures nationwide. This virus is deadliest in already-ill patients –– that’s why it’s vital we keep coronavirus away from patients in hospital. Only two visitors a day will be allowed to see a patient, and the visitation window will only be one hour. Visitors will enter facilities one at a time and will need to be health-checked prior to entry. Our standing ban on visitations to isolation wards and facilities will continue. We’ll also be introducing compulsory testing for Fijians returning from overseas in government-funded quarantine after 14 days –– if they test negative after the critical 14-day incubation period, they will be able to spend the remaining 14 days of their quarantine at home. 

This latest case goes to show: This virus is still out there in our communities. Our 18th case has been present in Fiji for almost a month –– while her transmission risk is low, she was certainly not the only unconfirmed coronavirus case in the country. This is a complex and contagious virus, and –– no matter the strength of our safety nets –– cases can slip through the cracks, as we’ve in other countries, especially individuals who never show symptoms. 

This virus is proving as stealthy as it is unpredictable, but it can be beaten. Not by some magic cure –– but by keeping to the simple strategy of physical distancing. The difference of two metres of physical distance between us means the difference between victory and defeat in this campaign. It means the difference between life and death for vulnerable Fijians. 

This weekend, aside from dozens more arrests, we’ve received reports across the country of blatant violations of our physical distancing directives. Too many Fijians are still behaving as if the virus isn’t among us. Thank God, there are no deaths due to the virus in Fiji. But if people keep crowding in public places, gathering socially, or otherwise acting like these are normal times, there’s no question, we will lose lives. The possibility of a 24-hour curfew is not off the table –– the power to avoid that drastic alternative rests with every Fijian watching, listening to or reading this address. So, please, do the right thing today, and spare us suffering down the road.

All of us need to seize ownership over our health and by taking responsibility for the laws designed to keep this virus at bay. Don’t push the burden of recovery entirely on the shoulders of our doctors, nurses, and disciplined forces –– they deserve far better than anyone’s apathy or ambivalence. 

Supermarkets, retailers, and shops should have hand sanitiser available and prominent signage instructing physical distancing. Children should not be out and about –– they must stay home, as should the elderly. Social gatherings are banned, and the 8pm to 5am curfew remains in effect. And all of us should stay in our homes as much as possible. If you see someone violating our directives, do not stay silent –– pick up the phone and call number 158 or the dial the police.

I’d like to end my brief today with some good news. Three Fijians diagnosed with the virus have made full recoveries from the coronavirus. That means these Fijians have tested negative for the virus twice, with over 24 hours in between tests. We also have several individuals in isolation who –– after over 30 days –– have not tested positive for the virus. Our recovered patients, along with those who have continually tested negative, will be released. Out of an abundance of caution, they will remain under supervised home quarantine for 14 days. Our other 15 patients living with COVID-19 all remain in stable condition. The Minister for Health is here today to share the specifics. 

We should celebrate these recoveries. But we should do so knowing Fiji’s recovery from this virus is still months’ away at best. We can get there –– we will get there –– day by day, test by test, and recovery by recovery. I know it’s not always easy. It’s not easy to keep children at home. It’s not easy to manage shopping, care-giving and bread-winning, while also adhering to all of our directives. It’s not easy to go without seeing friends and family for social gatherings. But these directives save lives. I assure you, when our victory over this virus arrives, every measure of our diligence –– and every short-term sacrifice –– will have been well worth it. 

Thank you. God bless you all. 

STATEMENT FROM THE FIJIAN GOVERNMENT – FRIDAY, 17 APRIL 2020

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has announced a cabinet reshuffle effective from this evening.
 
The Prime Minister will add the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to his existing portfolios.
 
The Honourable Inia Seruiratu will now serve as the Minister for Rural and Maritime Development and the Minister for Disaster Management. He will continue to lead the Ministry of Defence and National Security, which has now been re-named to the Ministry of Defence, National Security and Policing.
 
The Honourable Jone Usamate will continue to serve as the Minister for Infrastructure and Meteorological Services and will now also serve as the Minister for Lands and Mineral Resources.
 
The Honourable Faiyaz Koya will be the Minister for Commerce, Trade and Tourism, formerly known as the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism. He will also serve as the Minister for Transport.
 
The Honourable Premila Kumar will continue to serve as the Minister for Local Government and the Minister for Housing and Community Development.
 
The Honourable Dr Mahendra Reddy will continue to serve as the Minister for Agriculture and the Minister for Waterways and Environment.
 
Honourable Vijay Nath and Honourable Jale Sigarara will serve as the assistant ministers for Rural and Maritime Development and Disaster Management.
 
Honourable Viam Pillay will serve as the Assistant Minister for Agriculture, Waterways and Environment.

Statement by the Hon. Prime Minister J.V. Bainimarama on COVID 19, Thursday 16 April 2020

Bula Vinaka. 
 
I want to start the briefing today with the latest on our response to the devastation of Cyclone Harold. After being thoroughly health screened, our disaster officials have arrived with food, shelter kits, and medical supplies to Vatulele, Kadavu, Beqa, Yanuca and Southern Lau, we’ve shipped water to areas that need it as well. Deployments to the Yasawa and Mamanuca groups will depart this evening. Our evacuees are gradually returning home, but those who need to stay will continue to be fed and looked after. The Director NDMO is here with me to take any questions relating to our Cyclone Harold response.
 
We remain in a state of natural disaster from Cyclone Harold. Today, we are declaring another state of natural disaster in response to the coronavirus threat, because it is clear we need to bring every resource in government to bear to take on the crises of contagion and climate change before us. 
Our coronavirus containment remains focused on our three high-risk locales: The Nabua settlement in Suva, the quarantine facilities in Nadi, and the Soasoa settlement and other areas in the North. 
 
Our first 16 patients living with coronavirus are all in stable condition. Yesterday, after testing ten samples we recorded no new positive cases of coronavirus. Today, however, one of our 25 tested samples returned positive –– that of a 21-year-old man in Vanua Levu. This gentleman is a relative and travelling companion of case nine; they travelled together from India to Singapore and on to Fiji.
 
Since his return to Fiji, this young man has not shown a single symptom of the virus. You will recall our original case definition for virus testing required that patients display symptoms. Upon returning to the country from overseas, this young man was in self-quarantine for two full weeks, up until the 5th of April. Free of any symptoms throughout the virus’s known two-week incubation period, by all appearances, he was in the clear.
 
But as experts have unveiled more about the insidious nature of this virus, and our understanding of the disease has evolved, the way we define and contain cases must evolve as well. From this week, we’ve widened our testing to all close contacts of all our confirmed cases, regardless of whether they are displaying symptoms. That’s how we identified, tested and confirmed this gentleman as our 17th case. He was immediately entered into isolation upon testing positive today where he is in stable condition. His close contacts have been entered into separate isolation facilities. 
 
This all goes to show that the knowns of this virus pale in comparison to the unknowns. What we do know is this: physical distancing is the only strategy that stops this virus. The disease cannot move if its carrier doesn’t –– so while there is no medical cure, time and distance are two sure-fire ways to put a stop to its transmission.
 
But as we have seen, the time that is needed to ensure it cannot be spread can be far longer than the world first thought. And it’s why we are now extending the quarantine period to a full 28 days, both for anyone who is newly-quarantined and to those who currently are waiting out their initial 14-day period. So, for example, if you are on day seven of your quarantine, you will remain in quarantine for 21 more days. Anyone whose quarantine has ended will not go back into quarantine, but they will continue to be monitored by the Ministry of Health until they meet the full 28-day threshold. 
 
Our contact tracing stemming from this latest case has revealed the need for additional lockdowns on Vanua Levu. The Vunicagi Settlement between Nabowalu and Labasa will be locked down for the next 28 days. The settlement lies along a short stretch of vital highway which vehicles will still be allowed to traverse under 24/7 police monitoring, as no alternate routes into Labasa exist. However, no passengers will be allowed to disembark or embark: No one in and no one out. 
 
Our lockdown of the Soasoa settlement as well will be extended another 14 days, in line with our 28-day quarantine policy. Given the continued risk of transmission on Vanua Levu, our ban on inter-island travel by air and sea will remain in effect. 
 
Meanwhile, there is good news to report in Suva. Around 180,000 Fijians in the Suva confined have been screened by our mobile teams and at our fever clinics –– well beyond our target of 150,000, and an impressive two-thirds of the total population of our largest urban hub. Today, that total will likely surpass 230,000, meaning that when combined with previous screenings in Lautoka, over 280,000 Fijians have been screened. 
 
This represents the most ambitious public health screening campaign in Fijian history. That success is shared by our healthcare heroes, our disciplined forces and the thousands of Fijians who stepped up and got themselves screened. We’ve also successfully identified and quarantined all of the close contacts of our Suva COVID-19 cases –– these Fijians will remain in quarantine for 28 days. 
 
We know the triumph of a single battle doesn’t assure our victory against this virus. We know we’re still in for long and difficult months ahead. But winning these small battles day after day after day is what will win us the war. We’ll need to see similar successes replicated many times over in the months to come as we expand large-scale screening to Nadi, Ba, Tavua, Rakiraki, Labasa, Savusavu, Sigatoka and Korovou.
 
The progress of our screening and contact tracing has kept us on track to lift the lockdown of the Suva confined area by 5am tomorrow. The Nabua settlement however –– the site of two of our coronavirus cases –– is still a high-risk region. Given how long this virus has proven it can stay dormant, the Nabua settlement  will remain locked down for an additional 14 days. 
 
I want to be crystal clear with everyone watching: Even though the Suva lockdown is lifting, every other life-saving directive in place will remain in place. The nationwide curfew remains in effect. Nightclubs stay closed. Gyms stay closed. Cinemas stay closed. Pools stay closed. Public gatherings are not permitted. Physical distancing of two metres from all others should be maintained at all times. The end of the lockdown is not cause for celebration. It is not a reason to have large grog sessions or drinking parties. It is not a justification to stay out past 8pm. It is not an excuse to leave your homes for no good reason. 
 
In the West, Fijians who have returned from overseas remain under closely supervised quarantine. One flight is arriving tomorrow from Auckland –– every passenger aboard will head straight to one of these facilities. As I said earlier, the period of quarantine is now 28 days. If you’ve already been released from quarantine after returning from overseas, prepare for a visit from health officials. 
 
Schools were scheduled to open next week Monday. Instead, schools will not open until the 15th of June, an extension that recognises that this virus will be part of our lives for the foreseeable future, and we must plan accordingly. The date schools reopen is subject to change based on the situation on the ground at the time. The Minister for Education joins me today to talk about how her ministry will continue to ensure that learning materials are distributed for at-home schooling, technology will be impactfully utilised, teachers and parents will be engaged and how students can utilise this as an opportunity for upskilling and professional development.  
 
So, even though the Suva lockdown will be lifted tomorrow morning at 5am, I want today’s main takeaway to be that every other health protection measure remains in effect and will be enforced. Every would-be law-breaker can bet that they will be arrested and they will be charged if they flout any of these measures. 
 
The coronavirus is the most complex and devastating global crisis of our lifetimes. We should all respect how vital our health protection measures are to the wellbeing of every Fijian. We need every Fijian behind them. Because as we’ve seen from the beginning, we are stronger together. And only together can the war against this virus be won. 
 
Thank you. God bless you all, and God bless Fiji.

Statement by the Hon. Prime Minister J.V. Bainimarama on COVID-19, Friday, 10 April 2020

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. 
 
Thank you. 

Statement by Hon. Prime Minister Bainimarama on New COVID-19 Cases in Fiji, Tuesday, 7 April 2020

Bula vinaka. 
 
This morning, after testing another 25 samples overnight at our molecular lab, we have confirmed a single new case of COVID-19 in Fiji. 
 
Our newly-confirmed case of coronavirus is the husband of an existing patient from Lautoka –– the Zumba classmate of patient number one. This was a case we have expected for some time and, thankfully, this 33-year-old gentleman did not develop any symptoms until after he was safely in isolation and posed no risk to the public. This is the sixth confirmed transmission that can be traced back to our first case.
 
There are now 15 cases of COVID-19 in Fiji. All of our patients remain in stable condition. 
 
You’ll recall the Fijian national who our fever-screening team discovered had travelled from Uruguay and smuggled his way into Lautoka. His travel history, paired with a fever and other symptoms, raised serious red flags, and jeopardised the lifting of restrictions in some areas of Lautoka –– for those reasons we locked down the Kashmir area in Lautoka where he resided. 
 
Despite his irresponsible behavior, which will still be investigated, he was among the 24 tests last night that came back negative –– meaning all of the Lautoka confined area now has the freedom to move into and out of the area, including the Kashmir area. 
 
But the lifting of the lockdown does not mean life is going back to normal; it’s not cause for celebration or an excuse to play loose with the rules. The 8pm to 5am nationwide curfew applies everywhere. The ban on all social gatherings applies everywhere. The requirement to keep a safe distance of two metres applies everywhere. Our Police officers are stepping up surveillance in Lautoka from today to make sure no one takes this as an opportunity to skirt any of our directives. 
 
It was the people of Lautoka who helped make our latest fever-screening effort so effective, and it is those same people who we will depend on to continue to act responsibly and keep the area safe and healthy. So, if you see any rule-breaking, speak up. If you feel symptoms, visit a fever clinic or call 158. 
 
Given this virus struck Fiji in cyclone season, we knew from the start we had to weather-proof our COVID-19 containment efforts to the very real possibility of a severe storm striking Fiji. Thank God we have, as Cyclone Harold –– a category five cyclone currently rivaling the strength of TC Winston –– is currently wreaking havoc on our Pacific brothers and sisters in Vanuatu. Tomorrow, the cyclone will enter Fijian waters, and we can expect strong winds and heavy rains in the Yasawa and Mamanuca groups, Viti Levu, Kadavu, the Lomaiviti Group and the Southern Lau Group. 
 
If any areas under lockdown see serious flooding and need to be evacuated, we have contingency plans in place to prevent any mixing between evacuees and Fijians who are close contacts of existing COVID-positive patients –– so you should have no hesitation in evacuating as normal if flooding poses a risk. All evacuation centres will also be sanitised, and regularly monitored to ensure that they are not filled beyond capacity.
 
Through this storm, I want to again stress that the directives given by our authorities are not voluntary. They are not suggestions. They are orders that must be followed, for your safety and the safety of those around you.
 
Cyclones can kill, and so can coronavirus. So, as we combat these two life-threatening crises, it’s vital that every Fijian do exactly what they are told to do by authorities. Stay away from floodwaters. If you’ve been directed to evacuate, please do so while the sun is out. If you have notbeen told to move, do the right thing and stay put at home. 
 
Over the past few days, as news has emerged of those who have violated the rules meant to keep us safe, I’ve shared the anger and frustration of many Fijians. But I don’t want any of us to lose sight of the remarkable stories of solidarity that have emerged from this crisis. 
 
This past Saturday, our national carrier, Fiji Airways, organised a charter flight on board an A350 which safely carried 300 missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from Nadi to Utah in the United States. Before departing for the U.S., Fiji Airways organised regional flights from across the Pacific to bring these missionaries to Nadi ahead of their trans-Pacific flight to Salt Lake City. 
 
On the flight from Kiribati to Nadi, 11 Fijians were able to fly back home to Fiji. To cut the weight of cargo and allow these 11 Fijians to make it aboard, 68 missionaries left their bags and possessions behind in Kiribati. Thanks to their sacrifice, these Fijians are all safely back in Fiji, where they’ll be reunited with their families after a mandatory two-week quarantine. 
 
That, my friends, is a profound demonstration of what it means to put humanity first and what it means to have love and compassion for your fellow human beings. Not only in words, but in action. Because while thisf virus can shut borders, keep us at home and even take lives, it cannot rob us of our humanity. It cannot diminish the love we hold for others, regardless of who they are, where they come from or the faith they follow. 
 
Vinaka to all who helped bring these 11 Fijians home. In the weeks and months to come, serious sacrifices may be demanded from all of us –– as long as we use compassion as our guiding principle, there is no challenge we –– the Fijian people –– cannot overcome. 
 
Vinaka vakalevu, thank you. God Bless Fiji.

Statement by Hon. Prime Minister J.V. Bainimarama on New COVID-19 Cases in Fiji, Monday, 6 April 2020

Bula Vinaka.

Yesterday, the Christian calendar marked Palm Sunday –– an occasion that many Fijians spent together with loved ones, surrounded by family in the quiet comfort of their homes.

But this Sunday, in the lockdown areas of Lautoka, Suva and Soasoa, hundreds of our Fiji Police officers and RFMF personnel spent the rainy weekend conducting COVID-19 protection operations –– ensuring that the Fijian people kept to our health protection directives. Their sense of patriotic duty, once again, showed us the power of the spirit of “vei lomani” –– that profound sense of love and devotion to the protection of our people. 
 
Our police officers had to make more than a few arrests over the weekend, but the number of arrests for curfew breaches on Sunday night fell to 21 from 110 the night prior. So, I want to give credit to the vast majority of Fijians who respected our rules and kept themselves and their loved ones at home. Let’s get that number down to zero.
 
You’ve heard me say this time and again: Stay at Home. Save Lives. I know it’s not always easy, but staying at home is the best way we beat this virus. It is also the best way all of us can honour the sacrifices of our officers and our healthcare heroes serving in on the frontlines of the war against coronavirus in our hospitals, fever clinics, contact tracing teams and isolation wards. Trust me, these Fijians wish they could be at home. Instead, they are putting their lives and wellbeing on the line to lock down this virus for good.

 Around the world, the virus shows few signs of abating. Confirmed cases have surged past 1.2 million. More families are being robbed of loved ones every day as the global death count approaches 70,000. And hard-working people are watching their jobs and businesses disappear as the world economy suffers the most severe recession of our lifetimes.

Yesterday, after a second round of confirmation testing, Fiji confirmed that our 12th case of COVID-19 was, in fact, the daughter-in-law of case number nine –– the gentleman in Labasa who returned from India on the 22nd of March. And, this morning, we have confirmed an additional two cases of the virus in Fiji.

The first new case is the wife of the gentleman from Labasa. She was taken into isolation two days before being diagnosed positive this morning.

The second new case is the sister of Fiji’s very first case, the flight attendant from Lautoka. This was a case we have long been expecting. She is the young mother of an existing case –– the COVID-positive one-year old baby boy –– and she chose to stay in isolation with her child to continue to breastfeed and care for him. She has been in isolation since the 19th of March, when our first case tested positive.

Both cases are close contacts of previous patients, and both were already in isolation when their symptoms developed and they tested positive. So, luckily, the risk of further transmission is very low.

Yesterday, our fever testing team screened the temperatures of nearly 10,000 Fijians in the Lautoka confined area –– several of whom were running a fever, which in itself isn’t necessarily a cause for alarm. But upon further investigation, we discovered that one of these fevers belonged to a man who was not only displaying other symptoms, but also had a recent travel history –– a history he was hiding from officials. 

He arrived in Fiji on the 24th of March from Uruguay, transiting through Singapore. Now, you might be wondering how this gentleman arrived in Lautoka when the lockdown came into effect on the 19th of March. After further questioning, we discovered that he had in fact smuggled his way into the confined area. Once inside, it appears he remained within a set area in Lautoka. Now that he’s showing symptoms, our contact tracing teams are determining how many Fijians he may have put at-risk. 

We’ll learn the results of his COVID-19 test tomorrow morning. In the meantime, our contact tracing team has determined the area in which this gentleman stayed. So, we plan to lift the lockdown of the broader Lautoka confined area tomorrow at 0500 hours. But, we will also be announcing a new confined area within Lautoka based on this gentleman’s movements.  These details will be announced tomorrow.

It’s the bad news that usually makes headlines –– but let’s not forget: Most people in the Lautoka confined area actually have been doing the right thing. We’re grateful to these Fijians inside and outside the checkpoints who have been riding out –– what I know –– has been a difficult 18 days. Your patience and your diligence has helped us effectively trace and isolate cases –– so by staying inside and playing by the rules, you have saved lives. 

This morning, Tropical Cyclone Harold intensified into a category five cyclone, with Vanuatu in its immediate path, with parts of Fiji also at risk. 

Fiji can expect heavy rains and flooding from Cyclone Harold from tomorrow –– meaning floodwaters and road closures will likely add a new layer of complexity to our containment efforts.

Meanwhile, we cannot allow severe weather to jeopardise our life-saving game plan to lock this virus down. We are preparing to face two crises at once –– the only way we beat both is if every Fijian adheres closely to the directives from authorities. Our disciplined forces will be giving orders, not advice –– and they won’t tolerate disobedience. So, do what you’re told to do. Your life and the lives of those you love depend on it.

I’ve said that our essential healthcare workers are heroes for their role in dealing with COVID-19. When I tell you to follow every directive we give, I’m saying it for them. They have enough to worry about already, without those who are breaking quarantine, violating curfew or otherwise acting recklessly. Stop making their lives difficult, when they’re working so hard to save yours. Listen to what we are telling you, and do the right thing. Do it for the doctors, do it for the nurses, do it for the police officers and disciplined forces. Do it for your livelihoods, do it for your businesses, and do it for your freedom of movement. 

Do it for Fiji.

Vinaka vakalevu. Thank you. God Bless Fiji. 

Statement by Hon. Prime Minister Bainimarama On New COVID-19 Cases in Fiji, Saturday, 4 April 2020

Bula Vinaka. 

Last week, we issued a nationwide directive to all people in Fiji to stay at home unless your life or livelihood depends directly on going outside. Again, my most important message to all Fijians this afternoon again is this: 
 
Stay at home, save lives. 
 
Tiko i vale me da bula kece kina. 
 
Ghare raho, jaan bachao
 
So, with very few exceptions, I expect that everyone watching this Saturday afternoon is doing so from home and doing their part to keep them and those they love from harm.  
  
On Thursday, I told you we had a strong suspicion of how the sixth and seventh cases of COVID-19 in Fiji contracted the virus. The father of the gentleman –– case number seven –– stayed with the couple for several days after returning from India on the 22nd of March. 
 
It turns out –– as we suspected –– the father-in-law has indeed tested positive for the virus. He likely became infected at a large religious gathering he attended while overseas in India. Upon returning to Fiji, he spent five days in the Nabua Settlement, and he then made his way by boat to Vanua Levu. He then travelled to his home in Soasoa. He is currently in stable condition in our isolation ward at Labasa Hospital.
 
This patient did not declare any symptoms when returning from travel, and did not follow the directive of entering into government-mandated home quarantine –– a compulsory requirement for all those returning to the country from abroad that came into effect on the 19th of March. Three days after the directive came into effect, this individual proceeded to ignore it by hopping from Nadi to Suva to Labasa in the span of a week, potentially spreading COVID-19 via land, air, and sea over just a few days. So once again, quite sadly, we have seen the spread of COVID-19 in Fiji due to a disregard for the rules we’ve put in place to keep people safe.
 
Our contact tracing teams are in the process of identifying all other individuals who came into contact with this gentleman –– including a few in Suva who he spoke with at car garages, and fellow passengers on the ferry from Nabouwalu Jetty to Vanua Levu on the 27th of March. 
  
Following his arrival in Soasoa, this gentleman, his daughter-in-law, and his grandson were all taken into isolation and tested. We tested all three –– and two of them, including the father–– tested positive. We are currently doing a second-round test on the daughter-in-law and grandson to confirm their results. In the meantime, all three family members remain in isolation at Labasa Hospital where they are in stable condition. 
 
After identifying the couple who tested positive for the virus in the Nabua Settlement, we had also entered their 11-year-old daughter into isolation before she had developed symptoms. Yesterday, she came down with a fever. She was tested and confirmed as positive for the virus this morning. 
  
In the Lautoka confined area, the 39-year-old sister of case number five –– the woman from our first patient’s Zumba class –– developed symptoms after she was already placed in quarantine within Natabua School. She alerted the Ministry of Health and was tested. She was confirmed as positive for the virus this morning, and she has since been isolated at Lautoka Hospital where she remains in stable condition. 
   
We also have a new case in Nadi which is unrelated to any of our other patients. This has many similarities to our first case in Nadera, Suva, the gentleman who immediately entered self-quarantine upon arriving back from abroad –– a responsible move that has, so far, resulted in no additional cases. This new case in Nadi is a 20-year-old woman who also entered self-quarantine immediately after returning to Fiji from Auckland, New Zealand. 
 
We’re all grateful this young woman displayed the same diligence and compassion as that young man from Nadera as she placed herself into quarantine, and stayed there. She was brought food that was dropped off at her door, and she refrained from coming into contact with others. Her good habits have spared Nadi from a total lockdown.
 
All Fijians living with COVID-19 are in stable condition. 
  
That means in total, we’ve confirmed five new cases of the coronavirus overnight. This is our single largest jump in cases in a day. Week over week, our new case numbers have doubled. 
 
As we’ve seen around the world, the virus doesn’t gradually add a few new cases day by day. It may start that way, but then, the spike in case numbers can hit hard and fast. Unmanaged, the virus can spread at an exponential rate, case numbers double and double and double, claiming lives along the way. If you see the graphs of how the virus exploded in China, Italy and the United States, it looks like a spaceship taking flight. Globally, there are over one million cases and over 50,000 deaths. In the USA, it was just reported that doctors are now ranking patients due to lack of resources. Basically, they are having to choose who to treat: who gets a life-saving ventilator and who doesn’t. On the other hand, if you see a graph of case numbers in South Korea –– where people acted quickly, adhered to strong government directives, and practiced good physical distancing –– the curve looks very different. It flattens, dramatically, and the outbreak shows positive signs of relenting.
 
Those same tactics can work in Fiji, but only if people do the right thing and follow government directives. Our first patient in Suva –– for example –– did what the rules demanded and dramatically limited his exposure to others. So far, it appears he did not pass the virus to anyone. He showed responsibility. He stood in solidarity with this nation. And he won Fiji a small victory in the war against this virus.
 
His example makes clear: The virus does not travel unless people travel. We have to stop people from touching, hugging, or doing anything that puts them in close contact with each other. That is why we locked down Lautoka. That is why we locked down Suva. That is why social gatherings are banned. That is why the nightclubs, gyms and swimming pools are closed. That is why the nationwide curfew came into effect. That is why passenger travel by air and sea has ceased. 
 
That is also why we are going to lock down a 240-square-metre portion of  Soasoa area on Vanua Levu –– where the contact tracing for the first case in the North is underway. The surrounding homes, and neighbours he came into contact with, will be under this contained area. If it’s determined that the spread has risked going beyond these boundaries, we will expand them accordingly. 
But rules only work when they are obeyed. 

No one is immune to COVID-19. Anyone can be infected. Anyone can be a carrier. If anyone disregards the rules and acts as if –– somehow –– they are beyond this reach of this virus, they’ll cost us Fijian lives.   

Last night, the Police arrested another 123 individuals for violating curfew –– up from 60 the day before. The hours of the curfew are 8pm to 5am, every night. Do whatever you need to do to remember that fact. If you need to go to work, you can travel. If you have a medical emergency, you can travel. Otherwise, don’t be the next person who doesn’t have a damn good reason to be outside when questioned by our police officers. 

We also had two rugby players returning from overseas who broke compulsory quarantine after coming back to Fiji. Like every other person disembarking from international flights, they were required to self-quarantine for 14 days. But they violated the directives, and put their loved ones –– and all of Fiji –– at risk. 

One of them was coming in from Singapore and had a high-risk of exposure to the virus while overseas. After reports he was breaking quarantine, he was actually brought into the hospital in Sigatoka –– and then he bolted and disappeared, forcing our police officers to track him down. Unlucky for him, he couldn’t step his way past our Fiji Police Force. He’s been arrested, and he is now securely in isolation at Nadi Hospital. 

Last night, in violation of curfew and our rules against inter-island passenger travel, we received another report of a mother who took her family on a fibreglass boat and shipped herself to Wakaya Island. The police are investigating this alleged breach as well.

This level of lawlessness is irresponsible, un-Fijian and just plain stupid. We are at war with the most devastating global pandemic in 100 years and any disobedience in our ranks will cost us lives. We don’t care who you are, rules are rules. Break them, and you will be found and punished. It doesn’t matter how famous you are, it doesn’t matter how rich you are, it doesn’t even matter how religious you feel you are, no one has the magic cure to coronavirus, and no one is immune to our laws. 

As always, these few bad examples hang a dark shadow over much of the good work being done all throughout the country. A few irresponsible actors shouldn’t take away from the many more who are following the rules, or the long hours being put in by our frontline workers who are combatting COVID-19.

In Lautoka, for example, thanks to the ongoing efforts by our medical teams on the ground, over 30,000 Fijians have been screened for fevers through temperature checks and in-person outreach. I thank the people of the Lautoka confined area for stepping up. In my eyes, every Fijian who gets themselves screened on the streets or tested at a fever clinic is a true patriot.  

And I especially thank our nurses and doctors who are out there treating and testing every new patient, sacrificing time with their own families to ensure that those who are blessed with good health are able to spend more time with their own. As I said on a video posted to my Facebook page yesterday, these healthcare heroes are embodying “vei lomani” –– love and care for their community –– and all Fijians owe them a debt of gratitude. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for your service and sacrifice. 

So from our healthcare workers to our firefighters, from our disciplined forces to our containment and tracing team, our nation is coming together to battle coronavirus. But, come next week, if we don’t see our fever testing numbers go dramatically up, and we don’t see the numbers of our curfew and quarantine violations go dramatically down, we will initiate a nationwide 24-hour curfew. So if you’re feeling flu-like symptoms visit a fever clinic or call 158. If you’re not going to work, buying food, getting money or accessing an essential service, stay at home. Otherwise, we will bring in the military and police to lock down all of Fiji –– it’s that simple. 

But even if we do that. Even if we throw every dollar we have into this effort. Even if we direct every police officer in the country to force our people to stay in their homes, the government cannot win this war alone.  We need you –– every person watching or listening, and every person in your lives –– to take responsibility for our nationwide response. 

Children don’t leave the house. The elderly don’t leave the house. Every time anyone sees a sink, wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. And keep a safe distance between yourself and all other people. If you need to go somewhere, do not bring your family with you, go alone. And wherever you go and whatever you do, keep a safe distance of two metres’ from all others. Remember: We must all stand together in solidarity to defeat this virus –– just not too close. 

I’m joined today by our Chief Medical Advisor, Dr. Jemesa Tudravu, our Minister for Health, Commissioner of Police, and Attorney-General and Minister for Economy, who will be going into detail about some of these cases, the steps Fijians need to take contain the spread COVID-19, how those affected by our economic slowdown can claim their FNPF relief and how some new businesses will be permitted to operate in a safe and hygienic manner. 

I’ll first hand things over to Dr. Tudravu.

Vinaka vakalevu, thank you, and God bless Fiji.