16 Jul 2021

Fiji govt under more pressure to lock country down as Covid spreads

3:59 pm on 16 July 2021

The Fijian government's handling of the pandemic is coming under fire again amidst calls for a lockdown following the largest rise in cases since the outbreak began.

In the last 24 hours Fiji has recorded 1220 new cases of Covid-19 ending Thursday morning.

It is the largest number of cases in a single day since the latest outbreak began in April.

There were another five deaths which health authorities say have occurred over the past four days.

This follows Thursday's announcement of 10 additional deaths over the past week.

The leader of the Fiji National Federation Party, Biman Prasad.

The leader of the Fiji National Federation Party, Biman Prasad. Photo: RNZ / Sally Round

Deputy leader of the opposition in Fiji and NFP president Biman Prasad said it was a tragedy, and that there was an urgent need to change strategy.

"It's a complete failure of leadership that we are seeing at the moment. The mood here is quite sombre, quite anxious. The people are fearful that there is a lot of uncertainty," he said.

"People are calling for a lockdown. People are calling for a change in the strategy to control this spread of the virus."

He said at least 60 percent of the country has had its first vaccine.

The most recent deaths included four people in their sixties and a 78-year-old - none of whom were vaccinated.

There are now 11,033 active cases with Fiji having recording nearly 14,000 cases in the recent outbreak.

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

Vaccine sceptic bailed

A Fijian church minister who labelled the Covid-19 vaccine as "evil and against biblical principles" has been bailed by a Suva magistrate.

The 48-year-old pastor was charged with six counts of malicious acts contrary to the Public Order Act.

Tuiloma Tawaivuna of the Eleventh Hour Ministry Church in Lautoka appeared before Chief Magistrate Usaia Ratuvili.

He was accused of creating public anxiety by posting anti-vaccination comments on social media between 10 February and 18 June this year.

Tawaivuna was ordered by the magistrate to deactivate his personal Facebook account and the Eleventh Hour Ministry account until the end of court proceedings.

He was bailed for $US338 and the matter was adjourned to 27 August.

Residents look on as police check people are wearing face masks in Suva,  as a worsening outbreak of the Covid-19 coronavirus Delta variant has overwhelmed the South Pacific nation's largest hospital.

Residents look on as police check people are wearing face masks in Suva, as a worsening outbreak of the Covid-19 coronavirus Delta variant has overwhelmed the South Pacific nation's largest hospital. Photo: AFP or licensors