10 Apr 2020

Fiji police investigate breaches of isolation, quarantine

5:10 pm on 10 April 2020

Fiji police are investigating people who allegedly breached isolation and quarantine rules imposed by the Ministry of Health.

Fiji's Police Commissioner Brigadier General Sitiveni Qiliho

Fiji's Police Commissioner Brigadier General Sitiveni Qiliho Photo: Fijian Government

This comes as Fiji's Prime Minister confirmed the country's 16th Covid-19 case today.

According to Frank Bainimarama, the latest case is a nine-year-old girl, the grand-daughter of another patient who contracted the coronavirus after arriving from India on March 24th.

Mr Bainimarama said the girl was in a stable condition and is isolated in hospital.

However police say that hundreds of people who were supposed to be in quarantine or isolation due to the covid-19 threat could have breached the rules.

The country's police commissioner said these people may not be able to return to their homes after their isolation periods of two weeks or more.

Sitiveni Qiliho said anyone found to have violated the quarantine measures will be arrested and charged.

"Some of the cases we will have to take them to court at the end of the quarantine period and at the end of their treatment because they haven't been honest with us. And that's not going to be just to let to pass.

"We will deal with those people. We will investigate vigorously when we are given the opportunity by our health officials," Mr Qiliho said.

Meanwhile, the commissioner said 28 police officers are in isolation on Fiji's second largest island Vanua Levu.

He said the officers had boarded the same vessel as one of the confirmed cases announced last weekend.

He said all officers who were exposed to the threat had been tested.

Mr Qiliho said two foreign nationals were arrested at Nadi Airport for allegedly failing to self-isolate themselves for the mandatory 14 days.

Meanwhile, police have arrested 179 people for breaking curfew since cyclone Harold hit the country on Wednesday.

Police said 88 of the arrests were related to social gatherings and two people tried to get into the capital Suva which is on lockdown.

Several people were caught playing rugby in Nausori and some were found drinking kava., police said.

Points in and out of Suva are blocked by police

Points in and out of Suva are blocked by police Photo: Fiji police

Contact tracing

Earlier, contact tracing teams extended their checks to towns outside the lockdown areas of Suva and Lautoka.

There are 16 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Fiji with over 500 in quarantine since the first case was recorded on 19 March.

Chief Medical Advisor Jemesa Tudravu said locating people who had come into contact with those infected was a huge challenge.

Dr Tudravu urged the public to support the health teams when they visited the homes of suspected cases.

"Let them talk to you, interview you and assess you. You can see what the weather is like and the challenge that our contact tracing teams are going through."

Identification

Earlier, the Ministry of Health said one patient had come into contact with more than 800 people.

The ministry said the patient was among five people diagnosed with the disease last weekend.

In the span of a week, the man had travelled to Nadi, Suva and Labasa, it said.

Jemesa Tudravu said there were four clusters of Covid-19 patients in Fiji.

Dr Tudravu said there was a need to trace more contacts of those who had the virus.

He said in order to effectively beat the Covid-19 pandemic, identifying positive cases fast was vital.

He said testing people within hours of their diagnosis was key to tracing their contacts.

The longer they stay out there spreading the virus, the more people they are likely to infect, he said.

Dr Tudravu said community isolation facilities had been set up as part of the Health Ministry's preparedness plans.

There were 32 fever clinics across the country and Dr Tudravu urged people suffering flu-like symptoms to visit these clinics.

He said about 30,000 people had been screened by health officials with 10,000 residents in Lautoka undergoing tests at the fever clinics.

Fiji's PM, Frank Bainmarama gives the a Covid-19 update, with Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho behind him

Fiji's PM, Frank Bainmarama gives the a Covid-19 update, with Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho behind him Photo: Fiji Govt

PM calls out bullies

The government criticised what it called the stigmatisation of those visiting the fever clinics by some members of the public.

Frank Bainimarama said those harassing people getting tested at the clinics were damaging containment efforts.

Mr Bainimarama praised Fijians who chose to get screened and urged others to do the same.

"There is no shame in being sick. There is no shame in having the flu, a fever or coronavirus.

"By seeking treatment for your sickness and by reporting your symptoms as soon as they develop, you are being incredibly responsible.

"It's necessary for all Fijians to be responsible in these times of crisis to ensure Covid-19 is contained," the prime minister said.