Asia Pacific Report newsdesk
Opposition National Federation Party leader Professor Biman Prasad has accused the Fiji government of “losing the plot” and “meekly surrendering” its citizens to suffer from the impact of the deadly covid-19 pandemic.
His stinging criticism came after health authorities reported this afternoon a record 431 confirmed cases of covid-19 and two deaths related to the coronavirus in the 24-hour reporting period that ended at 8am today.
Health Secretary Dr James Fong said in his daily briefing that the new cases were from the Central and Western Divisions.
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Dr Fong said a full breakdown of areas of interest had been published online on the ministry’s covid-19 dashboard and on the Fiji government Facebook page, The Fiji Times reports.
The approximate locations of the new cases are at this link.
“There have now been 24 deaths due to covid-19 in Fiji, with 22 of these deaths during the outbreak that started in April this year,” Dr Fong said.
“We also have recorded 11 covid-19 positive patients who [have] died from conditions that they had before they contracted covid-19.”
‘Care and compassion’ needed
Dr Prasad said in a statement to Asia Pacific Report that the Fiji people needed “care and compassion” at this most critical time in the country’s independent history.
“Instead, this government believes it is okay that people suffer as long as it is able to rake in taxpayers funds through direct and indirect taxes by reopening the economy,” he said.
“It is a matter of wonderment that two different ministries of government totally contradict each other in terms of the so-called mitigation strategy to tackle covid-19.
“The Permanent Secretary for Health [Dr Fong] has repeatedly emphasised the need for people to stay at home and only move around for essential services like purchasing food, medicine, seeking medical treatment or exercise.
“But Trade Minister Faiyaz Koya has revealed they are looking at reopening not only retail business but allowing restaurants, food courts and gymnasiums to be fully operational under ‘covid-safe’ measures.
“This is the height of incompetency in a government whose leader has said in Parliament that ‘nobody gives a damn’ when asked by a NFP parliamentarian to reset their moral compass and show leadership.
“It is clear that this government is shredding the livelihoods of thousands of people, forced the closure of hundreds of small and medium enterprises, brought tragedy and ruin to hundreds of families and cause[d] irreparable damage to the economy, by completely abandoning its moral obligation and responsibility for the health, wellbeing and safety of the citizens.”
‘Worst fears’ confirmed
On Wednesday night, the Health Permanent Secretary’s statement that people who believed they had covid symptoms should find their way to the hospital or covid care facility for testing because health teams were stretched, “confirms our worst fears of collapse of delivery of health and medical services”.
“How does the government expect people, struggling to put food on the table, find their own way to the nearest medical facility?” Dr Prasad asked.
“Worse, what happens during curfew hours when public transport is not available?
“The so–called mitigation strategies will not work. If anything, it is a concession of astronomical rise in the number of cases, tragically resulting in more deaths.
“We know the government is cash-strapped. It has been so for a while. But it has to blame itself for being in this position due to economic mismanagement, waste and pilferage of funds, lack of transparency and accountability and bad governance.
“But the government must not sacrifice its citizens for its own failures. If it doesn’t change course and change its strategy from mitigation to elimination, Fiji is headed for disaster,” dr Prasad said.
“It will be the most painful and tragic legacy left behind by any government since independence. Despite this tragic situation, we urge people to take extra care, observe all covid-safe protocols, get vaccinated and help each other.