20 Mar 2020

Fiji restricts travel from US, UK and Europe

10:13 am on 20 March 2020
Fiji's Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama opened the country's first facility capable of testing for the coronavirus.

Fiji's Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama opened the country's first facility capable of testing for the coronavirus. Photo: Facebook / Fiji government

Fiji has restricted entry to all travellers from the United States and Europe, including the United Kingdom, because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama has announced that, beginning Friday, 20 March, they will face the same restrictions as visitors from other coronavirus hot-spots and must self-isolate in another country for 14-days.

Further, anyone entering Fiji from any overseas destination will be required to self-isolate for 14 days.

The new Airbus A350 aircraft.

Photo: Fiji Government

"From midnight tonight our border restrictions on mainland China, Italy, Iran, Spain and South Korea will be extended to foreign nationals who have been present in the United States of America and all of Europe," he said.

"Including the United Kingdom, within 14 days of their intended travel to Fiji."

Frank Bainimarama said the new travel restrictions are the strongest and widest-reaching in Fijian history.

Fiji has first confirmed case of Covid-19

There is a single confirmed case of Covid-19 in Lautoka according to Fiji's Health Minister.

Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete confirmed via Twitter that this person had recently returned from travel abroad.

Fiji's Minister of Health, Ifereimi Waqainabete

Fiji's Minister of Health, Ifereimi Waqainabete Photo: RNZ Pacific / Koro Vaka'uta

He said the patient had been immediately isolated where he remained under careful medical supervision.

Fijian authorities are trying to locate people who came into contact with the man.

PM Frank Bainimarama has called for calm and urged the public to exercise the necessary precautions.

"The patient in question was identified, isolated and tested Tuesday evening at the Lautoka Hospital," he said.

"The patient remains under close medical supervision and he is in a stable condition. The case was transmitted while he was travelling abroad; there remain zero confirmed cases of local transmission in Fiji."

Mr Bainimarama said the military and police are working with the Ministry of Health to identify those potentially exposed to the virus.

Earlier, the Health Minister Ifereimi Waqainabete had alluded to the prime minister's announcement saying that although there are no locally transmitted cases in Fiji, they are vastly expanding containment measures.

Meanwhile, organisers of the Fiji Marist rugby sevens tournament have cancelled their weekend event, citing a government announcement about the confirmed case.