Letters to the Editor – Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Members of the Syrian Civil defence sanitize the Bab Al-Nour internally displaced persons camp, to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Azaz, Syria March 26, 2020. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi

A different take on COVID-19

Recently, I told my friends: We in Fiji will probably die of fear, panic and everything else but the big bad COVID-19.

We need to keep our wits about us and think things through clearly.

The media are not helping either.

Take for example the number thrown around – The Fiji Times (5/4) “Covid-19 Situation in Numbers. Globally 1.03 million confirmed, Deaths 54,500”.

What is the sample size/number here?

The world’s population of more than 7 billion people, worldwide a little over 1 million (1.03) people tested positive for the virus, which is 0.014 per cent of the population.

This is well under 1 per cent of our world’s population of 70 million people.

Now out of the 1 million people who tested positive for COVID-19, 54,500 died.

That is 5.4 per cent of the 1 million people died.

What happened to the 95 per cent of the 1 million people who tested positive (945,500 people)?

They got better.

You may argue that the numbers may increase.

Yes, as more countries get COVID-19, those numbers will increase.

But don’t forget that at the same time, some countries like China, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, etc., are getting better.

Look at Fiji’s numbers – 14 people tested positive for COVID-19 out of our population of over 900,000 people.

This is 0.0015 per cent of our population which is not even 1 per cent of our population (9000 people).

Presently we have no deaths.

We need to keep things in perspective.

If anyone gets infected with COVID-19, I believe they have more chances of getting only the flu symptoms.

Very few go on to get pneumonia which is killing people because we don’t have medicine yet to kill a virus.

It is those who get pneumonia who go on to need a ventilator machine.

I don’t believe that any of our COVID-19 patients have pneumonia or are on the ventilator machine simply because they cannot be on social media at the same time.

What do we do?

The MOH has made it clear – wash your hands, keep your distance and limit your trips out of your house.

Korina Waibuta, Knolly St, Suva

Where are the seeds?

I share the sentiments expressed by Arun Prasad (FT 06/04) alluding to bureaucratic ‘red tape’.

The Minister for Agriculture has already scattered the seeds on nationwide TV last week but backyard farmers like me are still waiting to sow those seeds to the land.

And Mr Prime Minister, sir, don’t make the nation suffer just because of a few disobedient citizens.

Just put them in Naboro Correctional Centre so they can plough and plant the land for our hospitals and senior citizens homes.

Thank you to all the medical staff, civil servants, police and military officers for persevering during these challenging times.

God bless you all.

Mataiasi Bulivou, Nausori

Disobedience an issue

The warning and frustration by our Prime Minister of the level of lawlessness in the midst of COVID-19 does not surprise me at all, for we are very unruly people at the best of times.

We can’t even follow simple laws that forbid jay-walking, littering, verbal and physical abuse, and theft so we are used to not listening to authority.

Our Prime Minister rightfully stated that the level of lawlessness is irresponsible and plain stupid.

He said that he didn’t care who you were and that rules were rules and if anyone breaks them they would be found and punished.

He warned that by next week, if he didn’t see our fever testing numbers go up, and he didn’t see the numbers of curfew and quarantine violations go down, he would initiate a nationwide 24-hour curfew and bring in the military and police to lock Fiji down.

Here is a great opportunity for government and our police department to get their act together and literally police and punish those who break any laws, and let’s hope they take this very stance from now and onwards into the future.

Disobedience has always been an issue and it’s about time we deal with it in the strictest and punishable of ways.

The only exception would be if it were a matter of life or death where food is being acquired since many of us still rely to a large degree on our resources for survival!

Simon Hazelman, Rava Estate, Savusavu

Island option

Around the early to mid-1900s, Makogai Island was the site of a government-funded leprosy quarantine and hospital facility.

If national borders cannot be completely sealed off, we would have been better off by having such a facility in one of the nearby islands for COVID-19 where all incoming overseas passengers would be quarantined and only allowed to leave once all reasonable doubts were cleared.

As it stands, this appears to be a scattered operation and public members continue to play cat and mouse with authorities.

I sincerely hope that our two bigger islands do not become large quarantine zones.

Mohammed Imraz Janif, Natabua, Lautoka

COVID-19 infodemic

It seems like the misinformation relating to COVID-19 is spreading faster than the pandemic.

I believe that there is an infodemic relating to COVID-19 on social media.

The sad part is that some of us are sharing information that is not authentic.

It is also seen that fake news is propagated so quickly that it becomes viral.

Some information is misleading and misinforming which the general public should not accept at face value.

Unfortunately, a number of us fall victim to fake news.

Some are continuously seen spoofing false information.

Malicious users target people through emotional posts like a vaccine has been found for COVID-19.

There are keyboard warriors who are masquerading gossip as news.

Now, we as responsible social media users could do a number of things to debunk the infodemic.

We must check the accuracy of the information.

Do not share if it is not true.

We must resist the urge to spread fake news.

Facts should be checked individually.

Re-think the biases the information is going to create if found to be false.

Practising information hygiene will be a good idea.

Once again, we must stop, think and check sources before sharing or posting any information.

Pranil Ram, Votualevu, Nadi

Market prices

The stakeholders tasked with buying vegetables and root crops from borders of lockdown areas and selling it to vendors have been blamed for the price increase at the markets.

Can the relevant ministry confirm or deny the allegations?

Wise Muavono, Balawa, Lautoka

Brace for Harold

While being struck with COVID-19, I guess Fijians will have to brace themselves for Tropical Cyclone Harold which is expected to head southwest of Fiji.

Those who felt the impact of STC Winston know too well what TC Harold could pose as it has turned into a Category 5 cyclone.

Therefore, I urge my fellow Fijians to stay safe and buy essential items to last through the course of TC Harold.

We could expect damaging gale force winds and flooding in low-lying areas due to heavy rainfall.

So let’s be prepared Fiji!

Rajnesh Ishwar Lingam, Nadawa, Nasinu

Tough times

“Tough times don’t last.  Tough people do”.

This quote by Robert H. Schuller in Today’s Thought (FT 6/4) should actually be: “Tough times don’t last. The rich do” to better reflect contemporary reality.

See the article “Them and us: rich vs. poor during the COVID-19 pandemic” by Hamid Alizadeh, in In Defence of Marxism, March 30, 2020 for elucidation.

Rajend Naidu, Sydney, Australia

Human need

Vessels of any kind that is being a mode of transportation whether it be of the sky, land or seas is essential in respect of human need.

Like hospitals and pharmacies for the medicinal defence of the human body, grocery stores and market centres for the function of the operational body so as mechanical spare parts and fuel stations for vehicles and other essentials.

Please review lockdown guidelines for the nation.

Areki Dawai, Suva


Government should have been firm on self-quarantine and taken the responsibility of transporting travellers to their homes from Nadi airport.

I believe allowing relatives to pick them from the airport then accusing them of not adhering to directives, is laxity on the part of those in authority.

I believe the hairdresser couple of Suva is a typical example.

Dan Urai, Lautoka

Being alive

The only good thing about this coronavirus is that it shows us being alive is the most important thing.

Sukha Singh, Labasa

Lockdown period

You can come up with a lot of names to brand this lockdown period.

I call it quality time but in a beneficial sense.

Never ever in our history have we experienced such a traumatic event where we can all see it has a global impact.

However, despite some frustrating adjustments that almost all have had to make, we seem to have the best days in spending time with our family.

COVID-19 may have the potential to strip some important aspects of our lives such as jobs, education, entertainment and other social obligations.

It does not affect the standing of the most basic powerful unit of our society which is the family.

We can divert this time as a time to pray, a time to reflect, a time to evaluate, a time to share and a time to attend to demands of family personal issues.

I do hope that we as a nation could realise that this is purely a quality family time.

Waisale Moce, Nadarivatu

Market hours

The Local Government Minister’s directive to defer opening hours of municipal markets to 8am, supposedly in consideration of public safety, appears to be a gross miscalculation.

At least when gauging the situation at the Nadi Municipal Market last Saturday.

Before opening, there was already traffic congestion mostly owing to limited unloading zones that were cluttered by carriers which inadvertently impeded traffic flow.

Then, as soon as the gates opened at 8am, the already gathered crowd consisting of both vendors and shoppers, thronged in simultaneously as vendors rushed to set up their stalls, and shoppers hurtled to purchase their supplies.

The crowded atmosphere not only restricted physical movement, but it barely provided space to even breathe freely and therefore made social distancing literally impossible. In a nutshell, the situation during the first hour was chaotic.

I am not aware what happened thereafter as I had left by then.

God forbid, had there been a latent carrier of COVID-19 present, the result that can potentially ensue in next few days would be catastrophic.

I firmly believe the minister and her team failed to diligently consider all prospective scenarios before imposing this brisk measure.

The markets can, and should, open earlier and will perhaps be better for many as most people prefer to buy vegetables early morning.

This will also prevent vegetable shoppers to congregate in masses.

Even many market vendors are easily able to make it by 6am, without breaching curfew hours.

I am even more surprised that a situation like this, forsooth a perfect vector for coronavirus, was completely missed by the media too!

Bimal Prasad, Newtown Rd, Wailoaloa, Nadi

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