May 18, 2021

Ukraine Breaking News

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Fiji fears that the post-epidemic “Covid tsunami” is an Indian variant

NDTV Coronavirus

Security officers check cars along a street in Suva after the Fiji capital enters a 14-day lockdown.

Suva:

A Covid-19 outbreak that forced the Fiji capital into lockdown after the island nation avoided transmission for a year was confirmed on Tuesday as an Indian variant, with health officials saying they feared a “tsunami” of cases.

The Pacific country had largely avoided community transmission before a cluster focused on a quarantine facility in Nadi, the city that hosts Fiji International Airport, emerged this month.

Permanent Secretary for Health and Health Services James Fong said six new cases emerged in quarantine facilities Tuesday and events in India showed that the threat posed by the strain cannot be underestimated.

“We can’t let that nightmare happen in Fiji,” he said in a televised speech.

“We still have time to stop that from happening, but a single misstep will cause the same Covid tsunami that our friends in India, Brazil, South Africa, the UK and the US are enduring.”

Fiji has largely contained the virus through rigorous isolation measures and border controls, registering 109 cases and only two deaths out of a population of 930,000.

Currently there are 42 active cases, of which 18 detected at the border and 24 transmitted locally.

The cluster began when a soldier contracted the virus in a quarantine facility and passed it on to his wife, who then exposed up to 500 people at a funeral.

Fong said there was evidence that soldiers who had returned from overseas deployments had broken quarantine rules by mingling with each other when they should have been in solitary confinement.

“This is unacceptable,” he said, adding that the military was investigating what had happened.

The capital Suva is in seclusion, along with Nadi and Lautoka, the second largest city in Fiji.

Authorities on Tuesday banned inter-island travel, while domestic carrier Fiji Airways suspended all international and domestic passenger flights.

The emergence of community broadcasting is a major blow to Fiji’s hopes of opening non-quarantine travel bubbles with Australia and New Zealand, both major sources of international tourists before the pandemic.

(Except for the title, this story was not edited by the NDTV staff and is posted by a syndicated feed.)

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