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Asia Pacific Report newsdesk

Fijians have been advised to remain calm as “ample notice” will be given should a situation in Fiji warrant a total lockdown of Viti Levu, reports The Fiji Times.

Health Secretary Dr James Fong issued this assurance last night as he announced 12 new covid-19 cases.

RNZ News reports that all 12 cases were from two households.

RNZ’s correspondent in Suva, Lice Movono, said: “That tells us that people are still moving in and out of each other’s homes, people are not maintaining any sort of bubble.”

Movements of the 12 cases in the past few days included trips to supermarkets in Suva’s central city more than 30 minutes drive away from their suburb.

Fiji now has 48 active cases, 35 of them locally transmitted, and seven in border quarantine, while the source of six cases is under investigation.

“Remain calm” said the banner headline in The Fiji Times today.

Struggling families
In an editorial titled “Reflections”, the newspaper said:

Let’s reflect on some things we probably take for granted.

Not too many people realise the impact of the covid-19 pandemic on Fijians until they see things for themselves.

It’s difficult to appreciate this when you are far removed from the hardship thousands of Fijians are forced to live with.

Now take for instance the fact that there are no jobs for carrier drivers in Nadi Town. It’s probably not going to ruffle feathers so to speak, unless you are one of those directly or indirectly impacted.

Fiji Times 120521
Today’s Fiji Times “Remain calm” front page. Image: Fiji Times screenshot

The assistant secretary of the carrier stand in Nadi, Mohammed Naseeb said the situation “is really bad”.

To drive his point through, he points out there are 167 carrier drivers who operate out of the base.

There are now only 20 to 30 drivers turning up every day, scratching around for jobs. It’s a nightmare!

Mr Naseeb returned to the base after three weeks.

Now consider the fact a lot of these drivers took out loans to buy their vehicles.

Now slap in the fact there is no business, and they are left with a massive burden on their shoulders.

Now throw in the need for them to put food on their table, mouths to feed, rent or mortgage to pay, and medical expenses to meet, and you are left with an unpleasant scenario.

The Mulomulo, Nadi man said most of their customers were farmers coming from the interiors such as Nanoko, Natawa, Nagado, however, those farmers were no longer selling their produce at the market. Now consider that segment of impacted people!

A little over 21km away, in Lautoka, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) Grog Masters distributed grocery packs to at least 200 families in Lautoka during the lockdown phase.

Its president, Amol Kumar said it was important to fight this battle together and struggling families should not be abandoned at this time.

Now, by this morning, [the Fiji] government had paid out $4.3 million through the $90 assistance programme to more than 48,000 households.

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