Senior officials of the largest church in Fiji have been warned they face disciplinary action if found to be influencing members not to vaccinate against Covid-19.
Speaking at the virtual meeting of the Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma on Covid-19 last weekend, the church's general secretary, the Reverend Iliesa Naivalu has reminded pastors that they were answerable to the church.
About 10 ministers from the Christian Mission Fellowship Church resigned last week because they did not want to be vaccinated against Covid-19.
There has been pressure on the clergy to get the injections since the Fiji Government's 'No jab, no job' policy for public servants was announced in June.
Naivalu also called on pastors to refrain from circulating 'baseless videos' being circulated on social media.
Naivalu reminded the ministers that they had a duty to preach about goodness and life to those under their charge.
Therefore, he said pastors had a fundamental role in encouraging their flock to get the vaccine to protect them and their loved ones.
"Church ministers circulating baseless videos of wild claims on social media were spreading lies and aiding the dark intents of those that created these lies," Naivalu said.
He told church members that the decision not to get vaccinated was an individual's personal right that they were entitled to.
But Naivalu encouraged church members to listen to the health experts who were explaining the benefits of vaccination.
As part of the church's stand on the pandemic, Naivalu said it was of the view that people's decision to be vaccinated should be based on the correct information that they received.
For a vaccine that has saved the lives of three billion people around the world, Naivalu said the church viewed it as a life-giving medicine.
He said it had no evil harms and therefore people needed to get vaccinated.
Naivalu told the virtual meeting that the church supported the Ministry of Health in its efforts to get people vaccinated because there was nothing wrong or evil about the vaccine.
72 cases, 2 deaths reported in last 48 hours
There were 72 new cases of Covid-19 reported in the community for the last 48 hours.
There were 34 cases recorded on Saturday and 38 on Sunday. This takes the total to 12,828 with 100 recoveries on both days.
The Government also confirmed two deaths, one on each day, bringing the toll to 633 with 631 of these from the latest outbreak that began in April this year.
There were no cases to report on the remote islands with the vaccination rollout underway.
"There are currently 71 Covid-19 patients admitted to the hospital - 32 are at the Lautoka Hospital and 39 at CWM, St Giles and Makoi hospitals in Suva. Three patients are considered to be in severe condition, and 5 are in critical condition."
Dr Fong said 74.4 percent of Fiji's target population is fully vaccinated.
Meanwhile, unvaccinated Fijians are only allowed to attend outdoor gatherings of up to 30 people.
The new Covid-19 measures were announced by the Government on the weekend after over 70 percent vaccination rate was achieved last week.
Dr Fong said the ministry may increase the outdoor capacity to 50 people.
"The sun and the air is everybody's right, so we have the option of open-air and unvaccinated people having to engage with their prayer sessions in different ways."
Dr Fong said the 70-percent capacity in houses of worship is only limited to those fully vaccinated.
Children are allowed in spaces where fully vaccinated adults are gathered.