A nation-wide lockdown is imminent in Fiji as authorities scramble to screen and test people living in Covid-19 hot-spot areas.
The capital Suva and surrounding towns Nausori and Nasinu are on lockdown until 4am tomorrow.
No one is allowed to leave their homes unless it is a medical emergency. And authorities have warned police are out to enforce the new restrictions.
Officials aim to screen and test as many people along the Suva-Nausori corridor where the virus is believed to be spreading fast.
Movement on the rest of the main island Viti Levu, with a population of 600,000 people, has been restricted for another week as a curfew (11pm-4am) is in place since 26 April.
This includes containment areas of Lautoka, Nadi and Ra, which saw the first Covid-19 cases of community transmission since March, 2020.
Last night, the Health Ministry announced two more cases of Covid-19 and three recoveries.
This is after the screening of 25,064 Fijians and 1026 tests were conducted on Friday, the ministry said.
Health Secretary Dr James Fong told a media conference the latest patients, aged five and 15, are the children of the woman from Cunningham who had contracted the virus last week.
He said both cases were confirmed in isolation, although their first tests had returned negative results.
"That means they do not pose a risk to the public and bear no implication on our existing programme of contact tracing," Fong said.
But the children and five members of the family had now contracted the virus, he said.
"Let that be a lesson in how transmissible this variant is and how vital it is that measures are followed by everyone.
"These measures don't just protect you. They protect the people you love. They protect your neighbours. And they protect everyone you might come in contact with."
However there was good news, Fong said. Three active cases had recovered and were discharged from isolation, and headed home to join their families.
Factory worker's contacts identified
Meanwhile, all contacts of the garment factory worker who tested positive to Covid-19 have been identified.
Fong said there were 877 contacts of Case 113 - the garment factory worker - which were split between two factories: Lyndhurst and Mark One Apparel in Nasinu.
He said the snap-lockdown had hindered the ministry's contact tracing and swabbing campaign throughout Suva and Nausori.
But he said officials were rapidly making up that ground since.
"We have identified all 877 contacts of case 113."
Fong said these were individuals who had travelled with the woman on the same bus and who worked with her in close proximity.
Earlier, Fong warned that living in remote areas did not provide any protection against Covid-19 when people continued to move from the the rural areas to the urban centres.
He appealed to rural communities to restrict travel to their areas.
"A number of communities have taken the step of adopting lockdown measures of their own," Fong said.
"This is a prudent and responsible action under the current circumstances.
"I encourage all of our rural and maritime communities to restrict travel into your communities if you can."
Fong said this measure could go a long way toward keeping rural communities safe.
100,000 calls for food packs
Since Friday's announcement of the snap-lockdown measures in Suva and Nausori, 100,000 calls were received by the ministry on its food ration hotline.
Fong said he was disappointed to learn that several members of the same households were inundating the number with calls.
"We were it clear that food is distributed on a household-by-household basis," he said.
"Attempts to game the system only succeed at delaying the delivery of food to Fijians with a genuine need.
"That selfishness has serious consequences for those who need this assistance."
Fong urged the public to use their good sense and stop wasting the officials' time.
Businesses hit hard.
About 80 percent of businesses have closed down in Nadi, the town's Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) warned.
Chamber president Dr Ram Raju said public transportation was at a standstill and still saw fewer people in the business zones of Nadi Town, Martintar and Namaka.
Raju said general practitioners and pharmacists were also reporting businesses at a low ebb which could be down by 60 percent or more.
"Supermarkets are open, however, we do not see crowds at the entrances.
"Hardships are likely to be felt across the society if the lockdown and restrictions continue," he said.
He acknowledged the efforts of the Health Ministry in trying to contain the spread of the virus.
"I am sure the temporary setback will be overcome in due course."
But Raju said it was difficult to predict a timeframe.
Until 4am Monday:
- No one should leave their homes within the lockdown zone - not parents, not breadwinners, not children.
- Police will be enforcing that movement restriction.
- Without ministry approval, you can only move out from your home for medical emergencies, this exemption will include kidney dialysis patients
- No businesses, including supermarkets, banks, and pharmacies are allowed to be open.
- Some essential services, like water, power, ports, and private hospitals, will be allowed to operate with authorisation granted by the ministry; the ministry will work directly with essential service providers on those arrangements.
- Deliveries across the lockdown zone borders will also go on hold as there will not be any markets or supermarkets open.
As of Saturday, Fiji has 49 active Covid-19 cases in isolation, 31 locally transmitted while two patients are still being investigated to determine their source of transmission.
Fiji has had 119 Covid-19 cases, 68 recovered and two deaths reported.
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