Fiji is Now Covid-19 Free

JUNE 5, 2020 10:10 AM  

PRIME MINISTER VOREQE BAINIMARAMA. [FILE PHOTO]

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has confirmed that Fiji has just cleared the last of our active COVID-19 patient.

Bainimarama shared on his official twitter account that even with Fiji’s testing numbers climbing by the day, it’s now been 45 days since the country recorded its last case of coronavirus.

He adds that there have been no COVID-19 deaths and Fiji has recorded a 100% recovery rate through answered prayers, hard work, and affirmation of science.

The Prime Minister is expected to make an official announcement later today.

 

Bula vinaka, everyone!

Word in Fiji spreads fast, so you may have already heard the good news: Our final three patients in isolation have all tested negative for the coronavirus and will be released back home.

There are now zero confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Fiji, and we have not recorded a new case in 45 days; that is over three full incubation periods for the virus –– granting us a high level of confidence that the virus has been wholly eliminated within our borders.

Overcoming this challenge is a defining moment for Fiji, but even as we welcome this victory for our people, we must continue to pray for and support those around the world who are still suffering from this pandemic’s devastation. And there is always a chance new cases will be confirmed as Fijians continue to return from some of these countries to be reunited with their families, but they will be contained by their mandatory, closely-monitored hotel quarantine, eliminating the risk of community transmission.

Over the next week we’re going to be reassessing some of our health protection measures. Like we’ve done from the very start, every step forward will be carefully considered, and every decision will be backed by the best available science. This measured approach is what brought us here, and it is what will bring us forward as we adjust to a new normal.

Because with the virus still raging around the world, we will need your active participation to build on our success. We’re busy preparing for the official launch of careFIJI –– a new mobile application that will speed up contact tracing and, eventually, allow for the secure re-opening of our borders. At that launch, we’ll have more details to announce. That will include plans to reopen our schools and our houses of worship, and safe workplace measures that will help stimulate economic activity without jeopardising the health of our people. So, make sure to tune in.

In the meantime, all of our life-saving safety measures, including our 10pm to 5am curfew, remain in place. And to avoid any risk of a second wave, the healthy habits we’ve picked up over the past months must continue. Wash your hands, wear a face mask if you’re feeling unwell, and maintain a safe physical distance from others as much as possible. And if you do plan to celebrate, don’t share takis, bilos, or cigarettes –– it’s simply not worth risking your life or the life of those you love.

Finally, I want to extend a big, heartfelt “vinaka vakalevu” to our frontline healthcare heroes, our contact tracing team, and our disciplined forces –– all of whom have made extraordinary sacrifices to keep Fiji safe. While their work is far from over, getting us to this milestone is a massive win in itself –– so we all owe them a debt of gratitude.

Lonely Planet Image/Getty Images
JUNE 5, 2020 1:51 AM EDT

(WELLINGTON, New Zealand) — Fiji has declared itself free of the coronavirus , after all 18 people who tested positive have recovered.

Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said Friday that the South Pacific island nation had just cleared the last of its active patients.

He wrote on Twitter: “And even with our testing numbers climbing by the day, it’s now been 45 days since we recorded our last case. With no deaths, our recovery rate is 100%”

He added: “Answered prayers, hard work, and affirmation of science!”

Fiji, which has a population of 900,000, imposed a lockdown in certain areas in April and put in place ongoing border restrictions.

“Answered Prayers”: Fiji Declares Itself Coronavirus Free

There was panic among Fiji’s 930,000 population when the first COVID-19 case was reported in mid-March, but strict isolation measures and border controls kept a lid on infections, which peaked at 18 confirmed cases.

WorldAgence France-PresseUpdated: June 05, 2020 10:47 am IST

'Answered Prayers': Fiji Declares Itself Coronavirus Free

Fiji PM attributed the country’s virus-free status to “answered prayers, hard work-.

Suva, Fiji: Fiji announced it was coronavirus free Friday after the island nation’s last known infected patient was given the all-clear, continuing the Pacific’s remarkable record of success against the virus.

There was panic among Fiji’s 930,000 population when the first COVID-19 case was reported in mid-March, but strict isolation measures and border controls kept a lid on infections, which peaked at 18 confirmed cases.

Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama attributed the country’s virus-free status to “answered prayers, hard work, and affirmation of science”.

“Fiji has just cleared the last of our active COVID-19 patients,” he tweeted.

“And even with our testing numbers climbing by the day, it’s now been 45 days since we recorded our last case. With no deaths, our recovery rate is 100 percent.”

The Pacific islands were initially seen as among the world’s most vulnerable to the virus because of under-resourced health infrastructure and high rates of health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.

There were also fears geographic isolation could turn the islands into infection incubators, like when a measles epidemic in Samoa late last year killed 83 people, most of them babies and toddlers.

However, nations in the region acted swiftly and made the costly decision to seal borders and shut down the tourism trade that sustains their economies, in order to protect their populations.

‘Lifted the drawbridge’

As a result, many have not recorded a single case of the virus, including Palau, Tonga, the Solomons Islands, Samoa, the Marshall Islands, Vanuatu, the Cook Islands and Micronesia.

“They went beyond the strategy of elimination and aimed for exclusion — they lifted the drawbridge,” epidemiologist Michael Baker from Otago University told AFP.

“In the case of Fiji, they did have cases but they’ve now achieved elimination, so in some ways you could say they’ve done better than New Zealand.”

New Zealand appears on the cusp of eliminating the virus, with health authorities reporting Friday there had been no new infections for two weeks and only one virus case remained active.

Fiji has already expressed interest in joining a quarantine-free travel “bubble” with Australia and New Zealand, two nations that supply the bulk of the tropical idyll’s tourists.

Despite Fiji’s success against COVID-19, officials worried about a possible second wave of the disease and insisted social-distancing restrictions remain in place.

“To avoid of any risk of a second wave, the healthy habits we’ve picked up the past months must continue,” Bainimarama said in a Facebook video on Friday.

“Wash your hands, wear face masks if you’re feeling unwell and maintain a safe physical distance from others as much as possible,” he said.

Health Minister Ifereimi Waqainabete said a night-time curfew bans on gatherings of more than 20 people would remain for now.

“We cannot drop our guard,” he said.

The Cooks, which was one of the first countries in the world to declare itself virus-free in mid-April, has announced measures to cautiously reopen its borders.

Prime Minister Henry Puna said citizens and those with work permits who had been in New Zealand for 30 days would soon be allowed to return home without going into quarantine.

The Cook Islands News described the move as “the first step in bringing back the tourists”.