Cut the ignorance, follow the law

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama delivers his statement on the latest confirmed case of Covid 19 in the country during a press conference in Suva on Wednesday, March 25, 2020. Picture: JONACANI LALAKOBAU

THE Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama did not pull his punches yesterday in a press conference in Suva.

He made no bones about what people should be doing as the number of COVID-19 cases rises in Fiji.

Stay at home, he said.

As the world tries to get a grip on COVID-19, we are not immune to its impact.

We are nowhere near the data surveillance technology countries such as China have at their disposal. They are
able to engage technology and surveillance data in the fight against COVID-19. That’s aside from superior public health systems.

In the face of mass surveillance though sit critical questions that must be considered.

There is the dilemma between privacy and accessibility, and the need for information.

As the pandemic cuts across the globe, trusted news from reputable companies is soaring.

In the face of fake news, information becomes a critical part of the equation in the fight against COVID-19.

Passing on accurate information that can reach thousands of people quickly is a critical element that is valued.

Consider that against the passage of information that factors in cut and pasted messages.

Surely you don’t want to lose your discipline about staying at home, but you also don’t want negative emotional
responses.

The facts are frightening. On a global scale, the deaths are mounting.

More than 1100 Americans died alone on Friday for instance. Cities such as New York were searching for ventilators as thousands of people converged on hospitals across the US.

By yesterday New York City had more than 100,000 confirmed cases. Its mayor was resigned to the realisation that the virus could very well peak around June or July.

Mayor Bill de Blasio yesterday tweeted: “We have a tough fight ahead. New York City needs a staggering amount of
equipment and personnel to meet this crisis and save every life we can. 15,000 more ventilators, 45,000 more medical personnel, 65,000 more hospital beds. We believe we can do it — If we get the help we need.”

Back home, we are left to contemplate what must be done to violators of the State sanctioned curfew.

As the PM said, no one is immune to COVID-19. Anyone can be infected. Anyone can be a carrier. If anyone dis-
regards the rules and acts as if –— somehow — they are beyond this reach of this virus, they’ll cost us Fijian lives.

On Friday night, the police, he said, arrested another 123 individuals for violating curfew – up from 60 the day before.

“This level of lawlessness is irresponsible, un-Fijian and just plain stupid. We are at war with the most devastating
global pandemic in 100 years and any disobedience in our ranks will cost us lives. We don’t care who you are, rules are rules. Break them, and you will be found and punished. It doesn’t matter how famous you are, it doesn’t matter how rich you are, it doesn’t even matter how religious you feel you are, no one has the magic cure to coronavirus, and noone is immune to our laws,” Mr Bainimarama said.

This touches the very heart of who we are as a people.

We care for others. So we must embrace social distancing, and every other advice and directive that will ensure our own safety.

Perhaps the virtual reality of our imagination is not truly responsive to the harsh reality on the ground.

In the wide spectrum of responses around the world, ours right now is critically important for our own safety. There
is no other way!

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