COVID-19: Fijian PM says will not allow 28 days of complete lockdown

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama addressing the nation. Picture: SCREENGRAB

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has tonight said that it is clear at this stage that Fiji is not going to get through this pandemic by shutting people in their homes and shuttering the windows of every business in the country.

And he has shut out calls for a complete 28-day lockdown of Viti Levu reasoning that would spell “economic disaster and miserable isolation”.

In his public announcement that begun at 10.08pm, Mr Bainimarama said it needed to be understood that the current outbreak was localised.

He said that outbreak was not all over Fiji but on Viti Levu, and centered in the Central Division.

And he adds that the cases are also mostly occurring in known clusters, most of which are within lockdown areas.

“So we have managed to keep the cases at much lower levels than they could have been, and we certainly have not had the kind of rampant spread that many countries experienced a year or more ago,” Mr Bainimarama said.

“The growing numbers of cases are not good news, by any means, but when we look into those numbers, we can understand that as long as we can find and contain the new cases, we can contain or slow the spread by quarantining people we suspect may be positive and isolating those who have tested positive already.”

And he said that those calling for 28 days of lockdown misunderstood the virus and disregarded what that order would mean for the people.

“Shutting down completely is a drastic measure; one that we cannot completely guarantee would even work.

“Developing countries have never successfully implemented total lockdowns. Even wealthier countries, where average families have deep pockets and savings, have only rarely ever succeeded.

“After 28 days of total lockdown, we could still see the virus re-emerge on day 30 or day 35 because of a single, undetected lapse by anyone, anywhere on Viti Levu. Twenty-eight days of a 24-hour curfew for all of Viti Levu would put all of us face to face with economic disaster and miserable isolation.

“If we took that route, after we spent nearly 700 hours shut in our homes, Fiji would look vastly and cruelly different when we all re-emerged.

“People’s jobs may never return. We’d suffer structural unemployment through the permanent loss of industries.

“And I cannot allow that to happen. I will not.”

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