27 Apr 2020

Covid-19 stakes higher than rugby - Fiji PM

4:21 pm on 27 April 2020

The people of Fiji have been told the stakes of Covid-19 are higher than any game of rugby.

This follows the government's announcement that 11 people previously with the coronavirus have now recovered and been released with seven patients still isolated in hospital.

Fiji PM, Frank Bainimarama

Fiji PM, Frank Bainimarama Photo: Fiji Govt

Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama called on people to stay the course as the country battled with the Covid-19 crisis.

But Mr Bainimarama warned if Fijians became too complacent, it could all too "tragically change".

"We've all seen a sevens side - after a comfortable half-time lead - go on to lose the game because they got cocky, let their guard down and failed to see victory through to its end.

"Well the stakes of this virus are far higher than a rugby match - they are life or death."

Mr Bainimarama urged people to stay disciplined and keep themselves a step ahead of the Covid-19 pandemic.

There have been no new cases of the coronavirus since the 18th case was confirmed a week ago.

The prime minister said more than 900 samples had been tested in Fiji and only two percent had returned positive results.

"I've said many times before, we are at war with Covid-19. We must stay vigilant.

"If we keep the course, we will be able to confidently rank ourselves among the nations leading the world in stomping out coronavirus."

Mr Bainimarama said none of the confirmed cases of coronavirus in Fiji were over the age of 65 and most of the patients had no underlying health conditions.

"Our success so far leaves us reason for cautious optimism. We have isolated every close contact of every case of the virus in our country - a world-leading feat.

"Every decision we have made has been informed by the best available science and the direction of our medical experts - and our adherence to health advice will continue to guide every step we take."

Curfew, travel changes

Meanwhile, the prime minister confirmed the nationwide curfew had changed from its start time of 8pm to 10pm and would run until 5am each morning.

But he said nightclubs, swimming pools, cinemas and gyms would all continue to remain closed until 12 June.

"Houses of worship, as well, will remain closed until further notice. Our schools will remain closed as well until the 12th of June 2020."

Mr Bainimarama also said the government had resumed all passenger inter-island travel, by air and sea from Sunday.

Social gatherings were now allowed of 20 people or fewer.

Fiji Airways flights resume

Earlier, Fiji Airways announced it would resume its domestic flights from Suva to Labasa.

It said Nadi passengers could connect to this service through the airline's Fiji Link morning and afternoon flights to Suva.

The national carrier said the flights would be operated by its Fiji Link Twin Otter aircraft, but could be upgraded to ATR services should the demand increase.

Airline chief executive Andre Viljoen said Fiji Link was also able to add more frequency if required.

Mr Viljoen said guests holding bookings for Labasa flights during the travel suspension period from 30 March to 25 April were able to rebook themselves at no additional cost by calling Fiji Airways' Reservations.

He said new bookings could also be made by calling the airline's reservations or go on the [www.fijilink.com Fiji Link's website].

"Fiji Link team will practice social distancing seating on flights as much as practical, and hand sanitiser will be made available to all guests for use.

"All other Fiji Link safety measures remain in place. These include Personal Protective Equipment use by all staff and crew and daily sanitising of all aircraft in use. All guests are also encouraged to bring their own personal protective equipment as well."

Mr Viljoen said the resumption of flights to other domestic ports was being reviewed.

Fiji Airways CEO Andre Viljoen.

Fiji Airways CEO Andre Viljoen. Photo: Fiji Airways