Editorial comment – Lockdowns and sticking to the rules

A police officer manning the Sawani containment boarder area. Picture: VILIAME RAVAI

Two issues stand out in the face of the announcement of new COVID-19 cases by permanent secretary for Ministry of Health and Medical Services Dr James Fong daily.

While there is great importance placed on the announcement of the daily figures, other issues have also been raised on different platforms. For instance, the head of health protection Dr Aaalisha Sahukhan said lockdowns have not contained the spread of COVID-19 in the Lami-Suva area.

While it was an important tool, she pointed out, it has had a socio-economic impact on the population. She shared her view during a webinar on COVID-19 organised by the Fiji National University.

“We’re coming to a point now where from the health perspective, yes lockdowns are an important tool, but also we have come to a limit of applying those lockdowns because of the impact on the community,” she said.

The Capital City, she said, went through periods of extreme lockdowns “which we call curfew lockdowns which lasted as long as four days, unfortunately, even this level of lockdowns and our containment efforts has not contained the effect within the Lami -Suva area”.

“We’ve reached a limit where the impact of a lockdown would actually be quite, very extreme on the population themselves and we’re seeing that in the community.

“So from the health side, while we do know that it’s a very important tool, we also understand that there are other factors that come into play when making this decision at the national level that may mean that lockdowns are no longer a tool that we can use.

“But lockdown has always been a tool that we would like to use or have used in the past, but we also have to base our response on the reality on the ground and the effects it has on the population.”

The ministry’s chief medical advisor, Dr Jemesa Tudravu has urged Fijians not to allow the number of COVID-19 cases to surpass the capacity of health services to cater for sick people. He warned if this eventuated it could make work even tougher.

Dr Tudravu said the ability to achieve this was to follow COVID-19 safe measures. “Stay at home, only three reasons to move – food, access health service, essential work.”

In saying this, we are reminded about the importance of adhering strictly to COVID-19 safety advice. That means, as our top three doctors continue to advise us, staying home must be priority.

Let’s stay home if we do not need to travel outside. Let’s protect our little bubbles, and do not allow anyone from outside this to enter it. Remember, whatever anyone says, thousands of people are suffering around the country. Thousands of people have lost their jobs.

Many are working on reduced hours and many have been forced to work with massive pay cuts. This isn’t the ideal scenario for anyone. However this is the harsh reality of our lives. Our challenge is to maintain strict adherence to advice and rules.

We look up to the powers that be to make good and strong decisions that will move us forward positively.




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