Editorial comment – Let’s do this

Dr Anaseini Maisema, WHO representative to the South Pacific Dr Corrine Capuano, Minister for Health and Medical Services Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete and World Food Programme Pacific Multi-Country Office director Jo Pilgrim officiate during the handover of medical supplies at the Suva Civic Centre. Picture: JONA KONATACI

Health Minister Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete made an interesting point the other day.

The ministry, he said, was reviewing its data in order to confirm that Fiji does not have any COVID-19 community transmission case.

“I would like to say that we have reviewed our data, looked at what’s happening in Fiji and we have reason to believe that technically we don’t have any community transmission case of coronavirus,” he said.

It had been 159 days since the last COVID-19 community case, he said.

“Our teams on the ground move into the community to make sure we are reaching the unreachable.”

He said the ministry would continue to monitor communities through strengthening surveillance systems.

“The clinical and public health teams are conducting community outreach through the support of the Government and non-government organisations.”

On Thursday the ministry received more than $700,000 worth of medical supplies from the World Health Organization.

Dr Waqainabete said the supplies would help to strengthen our capacity to fight COVID-19.

With that in mind, international stats certainly aren’t pleasing to read. CNN reported yesterday that the US surpassed 7 million COVID-19 cases and recorded at least 203,000 deaths as of Friday.

California became the first US state to surpass 800,000 cases.

In Scotland, university students were banned from bars and restaurants in the face of a spike in infections.

The health minister of the Australian state of Victoria resigned after being blamed for mishandling quarantine hotels.

In the Middle East, cases appear to be surging in countries that previously recorded some of the lowest infection rates in the world.

We are in containment mode right now. Our challenge is to maintain the status quo. That means adhering to social distancing rules.

We may sound like a broken record permanently on replay mode. The reality is that this virus is not going anywhere any time soon.

We will continue to look to our frontliners at our border quarantine facilities to be vigilant and proactive.

As the good doctor pointed out, it has been 159 days since the last COVID-19 community case. Technically, he says, we do not have any community transmission.

That does not mean we can afford to be resting on our laurels and hope that the virus will never affect us. To stay on course is important.

We cannot afford to be complacent. Every Fijian has a duty to stay focused.

Our nation depends on us to make calls that are beneficial for us all.

So if you are out in public, do not touch your face. If you sneeze or cough, do so into your elbow or use a tissue, but dispose this safely immediately.

Do not shake a hand and no hugs please. Wash your hands often with soap and water or use a sanitiser. You may cast aside the broken record reference, but stay on course, and heed advice.

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