27 Jul 2021

Fiji business owners in the west want lockdown

5:37 pm on 27 July 2021

Businesses in Fiji's Western Division are calling for a national lockdown amid the worsening Covid-19 crisis in the country.

But Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said he would not impose a complete shutdown because this would only cripple the economy and impact jobs.

There are now over 18-thousand positive people in isolation and more than 190 deaths.

The Nadi Chamber of Commerce and Industry says the government can achieve herd immunity quickly if it enforces a complete shutdown and focus on mass vaccination of the target population.

Chamber president Dr Ram Raju said Fiji's healthcare system is not able to cope with providing any meaningful medical care.

This photo from April shows shoppers in Suva's fish market preparing for a lockdown in late April.

Photo: AFP

The health system is already overwhelmed, Dr Raju said.

"Mortuaries are full. There's no end in sight. The healthcare workers, the frontliners are getting tired and, to some extent scared.

"It is time that the government urgently review the current strategies in place for Covid-19 pandemic prevention, control and management as they are not effective in stopping the pandemic."

Dr Raju said the government should consider a total lockdown of the entire country with the help of other public health experts who had experience in managing such outbreaks of infectious diseases in the past.

He said this included other stakeholders in the national management team that would add value in the control measures.

"A complete lockdown for at least 21 days is necessary to halt the spread and contain the pandemic. 48-72-hour notice can be issued for people to prepare for the lockdown.

"They can stock up on food, drinks, medicines and other essentials and those who are not able to do so to seek help.

Dr Ram Raju.

Dr Ram Raju. Photo: Supplied

"An economist has worked out that it will only cost the Government $F90 million dollars to provide all the necessities for 3-4 weeks of lockdown to the most vulnerable groups."

Dr Raju said the Fijian government should provide all the necessities to the underprivileged or those below the poverty line during lockdown.

Health Secretary Dr James Fong said the ministry had expanded and refocused efforts to save as many lives as possible.

Dr Fong said the government was doing everything it could to combat the Covid-19 outbreak.

Tourist operators back vaccine rollout

Tourist operators in the Yasawa Group have stepped up to support the government's vaccination program.

Nacula District spokesperson Lavenia Naivalu said the local health and awareness group was fully funded by the management team of Turtle Island Resort and Nanuya Island Resort.

The district with a total of seven villagers began administering the first dose of the Astra Zeneca vaccine to villagers in Malakati and Navotua on Monday.

"We are very grateful to Mr Richard Evanson Jnr for leading this campaign and offering financial support for the team to move around to all of our communities within the district of Nacula," she told the Fiji Times newspaper.

"We are also grateful to the NIR general manager Akuila Kula for providing accommodation to our awareness team.

"The awareness and vaccination teams were also helped by our corporate partners Oarsman Bay and Coconut Beach Resort.

"This assistance from our tourism properties is very encouraging because they are helping our people get vaccinated."

Fiji's Health Ministry said 441,171 people or 75.2 percent of the target population had received their first dose of the vaccine, while 97,268 or 16.6 percent.

Police on patrol as they enforce face mask protocols in Fiji's capital Suva, amid a worsening outbreak of the Delta variant of Covid-19 in the Pacific nation.

Police on patrol as they enforce face mask protocols in Fiji's capital Suva, amid a worsening outbreak of the Delta variant of Covid-19 in the Pacific nation. Photo: AFP or licensors