Shailendra Singh: Some tough covid questions for Fiji after 12 more cases

The Fiji Times 270421
In light of the new covid cases in Fiji, have the international travel guidelines been changed or are they still the same? Image: The Fiji Times 270421

COMMENT: By Shailendra Singh in Suva

Perth in Australia was plunged into a three-day lockdown after community transmission was linked to a returnee from India.

Fiji finds itself in similar situation due to a returnee, also from India.

Australian officials say overseas travel is allowed only for “the most profound humanitarian or compassionate reasons, under strictest of circumstances”.

What about Fiji? Under what circumstances is overseas travel allowed? Under what circumstances was the India returnee allowed to travel in the first place – do citizens have a right to know?

Australia has recognised the risks and effectively banned international travel, even though thousands of Australians will be unable to return home for now.

What is the Fiji response to international travel in light of the latest infections from abroad with 12 new cases yesterday? Are we tightening things up or not? The citizens need to know what the government is doing.

Reports indicate Australia adopted varying responses with regards to high-risk countries, including North America and Europe.

Tightening up
Given the crisis in India, Australia has taken steps to further tighten departures after it was found people were travelling for weddings, funerals and sports.

Critics have condemned the Australian government for what they see as its laxity, and for risking lives and dealing a potential blow to the economy.

What about Fiji? On what grounds are people travelling? Were people allowed to travel for weddings, religious reasons and for funerals? We need answers.

How big a risk is it to us as a nation to allow return travel from hot spots like India and the US?

In light of the new cases, have the international travel guidelines been changed or are they still the same?

Dr Shailendra Singh is senior lecturer and coordinator of the journalism programme at the University of the South Pacific. This comment is from Dr Singh’s social media posts and is republished with permission.

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