Fiji shuts down capital city as Covid-19 cases rise to seven

Fiji shuts down capital city as Covid-19 cases rise to seven

Venkat Raman
Auckland, April 2, 2020

Fijian Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama (Photo by FBC News)

The Fijian government will shut down the greater Suva area for the next 14 days as the fear of wider spread of Covid-19 grips the country.

Two new cases have raised the scare of community transmission as they were both hairdressers, in close contact with people.

The two new cases too Fiji’s total Covid-19 cases to seven.

Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama told a media conference in Suva today that the two persons- a 21-year-old woman and her 33-year-old husband, were moved move them securely and hygienically into isolation. 

He said that the two new cases are unrelated to the earlier five cases.

Heightened risk

“We are actively identifying all the close contacts of the individuals. We have identified a contact who lived at home with these two patients after returning from India as the likeliest transmitter of the virus. This person has been placed into isolation in Labasa Hospital, but we cannot comment further until testing confirms this person as the source. Some of the personal details of these two patients have been unfortunately leaked to the public,” he said. 

Stating that there is high risk of these patients having infected others, he said that since they not only lived in close contact with other families in their settlement, but also served in public-facing job. Both worked as hairdressers, one at the Jade Salon at FNPF Plaza and the other at the Super Cuts in Damodar City Suva.

“That is why, just as we did in the Lautoka confined area, all of the greater Suva area will be going on lockdown, a tactic that we are embracing because it has proven effective in containing the spread. We have drawn up the borders of a Suva confined area; For a period of 14 days, we will be closing off entry and exit at some checkpoints,” Mr Bainimarama said.

Essential businesses to open

He said that only those travelling for medical purposes will be allowed through these checkpoints.

“While supermarkets and shops selling food; restaurants seating less than 20 people, banks and pharmacies will remain open, all other non-essential businesses will remain closed.

Just like Lautoka, air and rescue services, air traffic control, civil aviation, telecommunication, food and sanitary manufacturing plants, electricity services, emergency services, fire services, health and hospital services, lighthouse services, meteorological services, mine pumping, ventilation and winding, sanitary services, supply and distribution of fuel and gas, power, garbage collection, transport services, water and sewage services, FNPF and FRCS, civil service, private security services and roading services will be available, he said..

“If your business is not on this list, close it down. As for civil servants, continue to go to work unless your Permanent Secretary has informed you to work from home. Markets will remain open but we are decentralising markets into satellite markets to prevent the sort of dangerous overcrowding that spurs the spread of the virus,” Mr Bainimarama said.

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