Editorial comment – Watch out for the third wave

Health Ministry PS Dr James Fong. Picture: FT FILE

The revelation that the Ministry of Health is expecting a third wave of COVID-19 to happen over the Christmas and New Year period is a concern.

It reckons this may be the case because of “excessive gatherings”.

As our report on Page 5 points out, permanent secretary Dr James Fong made the comment in a virus update for the 48 hours to 8am on Monday.

He voiced concerns about laxity in following COVID-safe protocols.

He believes COVID-safe measures in public indoor spaces, in public transportation over land and sea, and organised outdoor gatherings were now being increasingly flouted and ignored.

Poor compliance to COVID-safe measures, he noted, was now more clearly visible in major business facilities.

“We do expect a third wave of cases because of excessive gatherings that are going to happen over Christmas and New Year and we continue to prepare to have the wave of severe cases in hospitals,” he said.

The public, he said, “needs to embrace society-wide promotion and compliance with COVID-safe measures to ensure the third wave is small – a wave we learn to live with and learn from”.

He said while the easing of restrictions was needed to facilitate social and economic livelihoods, Fijians must ensure that with vaccination, they continued to observe COVID-safe measures and avoided contained spaces and crowds to avoid the risk of increased virus spread.

We realise that a third wave is a very real possibility.

In fact, it is frightening to even think about it.

But whatever your take is on this, factor that in. A third wave is already affecting some countries around the world. It is just the way things are.

The COVID-19 pandemic is real and we are not immune to its negative impact.

The good doctor has pin-pointed the festive season as a major concern.

This is when Fijians will let their hair down, and revel in the festivities. This is when they will celebrate with enthusiasm, and partake in feasting and, in many cases, partying.

This is when family functions are organised and villages welcome visitors.

This is when fun and happiness will be savoured to the brim. We know what can happen. We have to accept lessons from the start of the second wave in April.

We know what we should do. We know why we must wear masks correctly and why physical distancing is important.

We know why we must wash our hands often with soap and water. We know the symptoms.

We know what can happen to us if we catch the virus. So let’s be vigilant.

Let’s keep our guards up. Look forward to the festivities but keep that guard up. Let’s remember what can happen when or if the third wave hits us.

We have suffered too much to ignore this warning now.

Far too many Fijians lost their jobs, were forced to take leave without pay and massive paycuts. Far too many families were affected around the country. We have been warned! Be safe and stay well, Fiji!

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