Fiji outshines in virus, Harold handling

Relief supplies being loaded on the boat. PICTURE: SUPPLIED

Fiji’s handling of COVID-19 related issues while delivering swift response to those affected by Tropical Cyclone Harold were more efficient than those of other Pacific States, says Refugees International.

This was the sentiment shared by the organisation in a report titled “COVID-19 and Tropical Cyclone Harold Create the Perfect Storm in the Pacific” .

Refugees International said Fiji, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Tonga faced unique challenges this year by becoming the first countries in the world to be hit by a natural disaster, while simultaneously battling COVID-19.

“All of the countries affected by TC Harold have taken different approaches to managing the challenges of preventing the spread of COVID-19 and delivering aid to affected populations,” the report said.

“Efficiently disseminating emergency supplies and ensuring they reach all those in need have proven especially complicated in Vanuatu.

“The newly elected government has relied on the advice of the NDMO to put into place very strict protocols around incoming cargo.

“In order to move delivered goods from ports of call, workers must spray cargo pallets with ammonium concentrate or similar disinfectants.

“They then spray individual items separately, then leave them to sit in quarantine for a minimum of 36 hours.

“By comparison, in Fiji, cargo is sprayed with disinfectant but then distributed within a few hours to communities that need it the most.

“As a result of Vanuatu’s strict protocols, there have been significant delays in the delivery of lifesaving supplies.”

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