25 Aug 2020

Fiji govt defends home isolation plan

5:41 pm on 25 August 2020

Fiji's Health Ministry has defended its decision to allow repatriated citizens to complete their Covid-19 isolation at home under military supervision.

Health Minister, Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete

Health Minister, Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete Photo: Fiji Govt

This comes after Opposition MP Lynda Tabuya said she was concerned at the increased military presence in residential areas.

Health Minister Ifereimi Waqainabete said the government would continue to repatriate Fijians stranded abroad and some of them would be allowed to isolate at home.

Waqainabete said an assessment was made by the incident management team and the quarantine enforcement staff including the military.

"They examine the place where this person may be and where they live and having agreed that they can be able to monitor them during the time of the quarantine, that then becomes acceptable."

The minister said there were no exemptions to the quarantine measures and assured the public there was no risk to the community.

Flag of Fiji on soldiers arm. Flag of Fiji on military uniforms (collage).

Photo: 123RF

Soldiers in the neighbourhoods

It is not clear how many people would be isolating at home.

Tabuya said she was concerned the public was not aware of soldiers being deployed to the neighbourhoods.

"I have noticed that there are several set-ups around some Central Suva neighbourhoods, of sheds with army officers in the neighbourhoods, and there has been no information about that to the public."

Sodelpa MP Lynda Tabuya.

Sodelpa MP Lynda Tabuya. Photo: Wikimedia commons / Stemoc

But Waqainabete said quarantine would be enforced upon everyone even when they were at home.

He said people who had returned from abroad could be given permission to quarantine in their own homes if they were deemed unfit to stay in a government-designated quarantine facility.

"We were able to ascertain that this person's house was a well-quarantined place, as it was about more than a quarter acre that he lived in.

"We have military personnel on hand to be able to ensure that he was able to do his rehabilitation with our doctors coming to check him on a regular basis," he said.

Waqainabete said the ministry would continue to send people overseas for medical treatment as and when it was required.

"We had recently sent two children to New Zealand who needed to go across very quickly with the assistance of the New Zealand government," he said.

"One needed a heart operation and the other needed a big vessel operation on his chest."

The health ministry said about 5,000 Fijians had returned home during the pandemic.

Meanwhile it said two people in quarantine had recovered from Covid-19 and were released.

There were now two active cases with the country recording its second Covid-related death in border quarantine this week.