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

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”

EOI-RaiwaqaMarketSitePPP-1

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.

Announcement: Updating of Fijian Diaspora List – Japan

Dear Friends of Fiji,

Ni Sa Bula Vinaka.

The Fiji Embassy in Tokyo is in the process of updating its diaspora contact details of Fijian Nationals currently residing in Japan. As such, you are kindly requested to email the following information’s to Mr Ashneel Shankar, Second Secretary on ashneel.shankar@fijiembassy.jp

i) Full Name:

ii) Occupation:

iii) Residential Address (Region/ Prefecture):

iv) Email Address:

v) Phone Contact:

vi) Fijian Passport Number and Expiry Date: and

vii) Contact Details of Close Family Member(s) in Fiji:

Your usual support is highly appreciated.

Vinaka Vakalevu.

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.