STC Harold: People flee to evac centres

People take shelter at Vashist Muni Memorial School in Navua from this morning - Wednesday, April 08, 2020. Picture: ROHIT DEO

More than 1000 people fled their homes to shelter in evacuation centres (ECs) set up in the Western Division as Tropical Cyclone Harold caused devastation across the country yesterday.

The National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) said as at 4.30pm yesterday, 1086 Fijians took cover in 40 evacuation centres across the Western Division, while 559 sought shelter in 39 ECs across the Central Division.

Ninety evacuees were taken to four ECs across the Eastern Division, while 33 people were also evacuated from their homes and taken to two ECs in the Northern Division.

NDMO director Vasiti Soko said they were working with the Health Ministry since the opening of the evacuation centres to ensure physical and social distancing was maintained at all times.

“The Ministry of Health had given us guidelines to ensure that we adhere to the COVID-19 protocols,” she said.

Chief medical officer Dr Jemesa Tudravu said the Health Ministry had plans in place to reach out to communities as soon as the cyclone was over to assess, treat and help affected people.

“We’ve liaised really closely with NDMO to ensure that communities that will be relocated from isolation facilities (to evacuation centres) will maintain the two-metre distancing that we are recommending because of COVID-19,” he said.

“NDMO had looked at the number of centres available and will facilitate this.”

Dr Tudravu says health and NDMO officers are visiting ECs regularly to ensure containment measures against COVID-19 implemented by Government are maintained.

He also advised that during flooding, there were high risks of the spread of diseases such as typhoid and leptospirosis, and Fijians should ensure that all drinking water is boiled.

“For children and adults, avoid playing in water. There is always a risk of getting leptospirosis by going into floodwaters,” Dr Tudravu said.

“Make sure you are not exposed to the risk of infections.”

(This article was published in The Fiji Times on Thursday, April 09, 2020)

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