Fiji extends curfew for Suva-Nausori lockdown areas after 9 new cases

Sawani checkpoint
Constable Manueli Laqai and other Fiji police officers man the Sawani checkpoint in Naitasiri, Viti Levu. Image: Jonacani Lalakobau/Fiji Times

By Talebula Kate in Suva

Given the rapidly rising number of contacts stemming from new Fiji cases of covid-19 in the Suva-Nausori area, a full lockdown that was announced yesterday by Health Secretary Dr James Fong has been extended to 4am next Wednesday, May 19.

This has been confirmed in a statement by the Ministry of Health and Medical Services.

Dr Fong had announced last night that a full lockdown of Suva and Nausori would commence from Friday night at 11pm until Tuesday morning at 4am to enable widespread contact tracing.

The ministry has advised Fijians living in the Suva and Nausori containment areas to prepare for an all-day stay-at-home order that will remain in force from tomorrow evening at 11pm until Wednesday morning at 4am.

“As stated yesterday, food rations will be available during the later stages of the lockdown period for Fijians living within the Suva-Nausori lockdown zone who have a genuine need for an emergency food supply.”

Escalated lockdown measures
The RNZ News correspondent in Suva, Lice Movono, reports that the Fiji government has decided to escalate lockdown measures, as health authorities recorded nine more community cases of covid-19 over the past day.

The total number of community cases now stands at 44, as an outbreak of the B1617 (Indian) variant of the virus prompted the government to announce the lockdown.

It is in this area that the government said it expected to have “many” more cases recorded in the coming days.

As the government works to trace infections from an outbreak at a large supermarket in Flagstaff, near the capital Suva, health authorities have admitted they may not have employed the best communications strategies in this second wave of the virus.

The government has in recent weeks conducted once daily updates, sometimes starting close to 10pm.

“We do need to improve our communication strategy. That is something that I for one will be working on, that I’ve been working on with a few others,” Dr Fong said.

“We have put a plan together and we have thought about it. It’s just that when we can implement it, is the issue that we will have to work with

There was a delicate balance between ensuring that he had all the information that he needed to share, and that what he shared was accurate and at the right time, Dr Fong said.

Admitting the public information campaign part of the government’s response had not been easy to implement, Dr Fong said the team he headed would need to segregate “between the team that’s driving the response and the overseeing of the response, and the team that’s driving the narrative”.

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