‘Stay at home’ – sweeping virus curfew arrests as Fiji, Vanuatu brace for storm

Tropical Cyclone Harold ... heading towards Vanuatu, and then Fiji. Image: PMC screenshot/TVNZ

Pacific Media Watch

Authorities are cracking down to try and stop the spread of the coronavirus in Fiji, which already has 12 cases, reports TVNZ One News.

Police have arrested more than 240 people in the last two days for breaching curfew.

“This level of lawlessness is irresponsible, un-Fijian and not just plain stupid,” Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said.

“Stay at home, otherwise we will bring in the military and police to lock down all of Fiji. It’s that simple.”

READ MORE: TC Harold now a category 5 cyclone

Fiji’s crackdown comes as TVNZ Pacific correspondent Barbara Dreaver reports on a major storm – TC Harold – heading towards Vanuatu, and then Fiji, with fears it could turn into a category five.

Barbara Dreaver’s video report.

Fiji has a mounting problem with coronavirus spread.

One of its positive cases came in from overseas and did not quarantine.

“This individual proceeded to ignore it by hopping from Nadi to Suva to Labasa in the span of a week, potentially spreading Covid-19 by land, air and sea just over a few days,” Bainimarama said.

One person who did self-isolate is a 20-year-old who appears to have carried Covid-19 from Auckland on March 22.

Procedures in place
New Zealand’s Director-General of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield, said there were procedures in place for when that happened.

“Whenever there is a situation like this where someone has travelled from one country to another, there is a formal notification made to kick off any contact tracing,” he said.

The number of Pasifika cases in New Zealand have nearly tripled in a week, now up to 33.

“I expect that we will see the Māori and Pacific portions start to grow as we see more close contacts confirmed or community transmission,” Dr Bloomfield said.

That is one reason Tonga extended its lockdown yesterday, with police checkpoints in evidence.

“It makes us have lots of eyes everywhere,” says acting deputy police commissioner Atunaisa Taumoepeau.

Health authorities are tracking down more than 400 passengers who flew in from New Zealand and Fiji before the borders were closed.

Tonga has limited safety gear and medical equipment, no capacity to test for Covid-19 and small numbers of medical staff.

The pressure is on to do the almost impossible and stop Covid-19 from spreading.

Barbara Dreaver’s TVNZ reports are republished with permission.

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