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.