Media Releases

Fiji Day Message by His Excellency Ambassador Isikeli U. Mataitoga (The Japan Times)


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.

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


Statement by the Acting Permanent Secretary for Health and Medical Services on New COVID-19 Cases – Friday, 10 July 2020

At our last press conference on Tuesday 7th July we announced that the rest of the 105 passengers on the flight that repatriated Fijian citizens from India on July 1st would be tested for COVID-19.

Today, based on the result of those tests, the Ministry of Health and Medical Services is announcing five new border quarantine cases of COVID-19.

This brings to a total of eight border quarantine cases announced since Monday, 6th July –– all are repatriated Fijian citizens arriving off the same flight from India that landed in Nadi on July 1st.

All the passengers on the flight have been kept under strict border quarantine conditions from the moment they arrived, including in government designated quarantine facilities where they are supervised by the Republic of Fiji Military Forces and screened daily by staff from the Ministry of Health and Medical Services.

The five border quarantine cases announced today are a 44-year-old male, 38-year-old female,

51-year-old male, 29-year-old female, and 47-year-old male. One is the husband of a border quarantine case announced earlier this week.

Four of the cases have no symptoms, and one has mild symptoms. All have been securely transferred to the Nadi or Lautoka Hospital isolation facilities.

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 these latest border quarantine cases.

The protocols to prevent transmission between the latest border quarantine cases and the support staff in the quarantine facilities have been upheld – there has been no breach.

However, as an additional precaution, support staff in these facilities are being tested for COVID-19 on a regular basis.

I also wish to reassure the public that, contrary to the Fiji Sun report this morning, there wasn’t any “slip up” in Fiji’s quarantine protocols.

Since the introduction of compulsory quarantine we have taken into account the need to replicate quarantine conditions in alternative sites for serious medical reasons. The process to replicate these quarantine conditions is extremely strict, with RFMF and MoHMS surveillance taking place directly at the home quarantine site.

Only when it is medically necessary do we commit the time and resource to allow individuals to safely complete their 14 days of quarantine in such an environment. But no matter what, the

14-day requirement still applies –– no exceptions.

On another note: The Republic of Fiji Military Forces personnel that arrived in Fiji on Saturday

27th June will complete their 14 days of quarantine in a government designated facility this weekend.

They were tested for COVID-19 soon after arrival in Fiji – with all testing negative.

They will all be tested again: requiring a second negative test result before being cleared for release from quarantine. It’s certainly been a long journey back to Fiji for our returning forces, but bringing our troops home and reuniting them with their family members is well worth every measure of effort we’ve given.

The same goes for all of our citizens who we are safely returning to Fiji from overseas.

By doing so, we are doing more than just proving our systems can support the safe repatriation of our fellow Fijians –– we are proving that we are a nation that does not turn its back on its own people.

The Ministry of Health and Medical Services will continue to work closely with the RFMF and the border control teams at our ports of entry, to ensure that our border control measures remain firm and the systems and processes for the checking and clearance of quarantine individuals are working well.

Be rest assured, Fiji is still a COVID-Contained country.


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. 


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, 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 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.