Editorial comment – COVID-19: Ensuring accountability

Lautoka City lockdown. Last minute shoppers at one of the Sugar City’s busiest public places following the announcement from Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama. The City will be on complete lockdown over the next 14 days.. Picture: BALJEET SINGH/FILE

The revelation yesterday by the Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama, that a man who hid his travel history and entered Lautoka while it was on lockdown, and is now showing COVID-19 symptoms, is shocking.

It is shocking that this happened at the height of the lockdown, bringing into question the impact of the lockdown, and moreso the willingness of Fijians to adhere to sensible advice.

We have been advised to stay home.

We have been advised to wash our hands often with soap and water, or to use hand sanitisers.

We have been advised to cough or sneeze into our elbows, or to use a tissue and dispose this immediately.

We have been advised to adhere to strict social distancing.

That means cutting out handshakes, and hugging.

It means staying at home and reducing unnecessary travel.

That calls for discipline.

It calls for appreciation of the fact that our actions, in the face of the global pandemic, can actually assist our nation to keep the COVID-19 at bay.

No one said living in an area under lockdown was going to be easy.

That much we know.

It is tough for many people to stay at home.

When you consider the positive impact of that action though, it actually isn’t tough at all, especially when you weigh life against the possibility of infection, and even death.

It must weigh heavily against knowing that loved ones, once infected, would be alone, in isolation.

So there is a certain level of expectation that comes with the scenario we have before us.

We are expected to be considerate.

We are expected to be caring and mindful of the impact of our actions.

We are expected to love one another, and appreciate that we can be part of the solution and the fight against COVID-19.

So how do you refer to people who will try to beat the curfew laws, ignore social distancing, and even try to get past the lockdown barriers?

How do you refer to people who will not self-isolate when they know they are high risk people because they have just returned from abroad?

Now weigh that against the mother who chose to go into isolation with her 14-month-old baby because she had to breastfeed him.

A mother’s instincts can be overpowering, and overwhelming indeed.

We must do the right thing if we are to get out of this predicament we find ourselves in quickly.

The big picture demands that we isolate the virus, the clusters, and all possible carriers, and hopefully stop it from spreading.

We must be part of the fight.

There is no other way.

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