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COMMENT: By Fred Wesley, editor-in-chief, The Fiji Times


The big announcement last night must be a very firm reminder for us all in Fiji about what we are dealing with. Permanent Secretary for Health and Medical Services Dr James Fong confirmed 46 new cases.

That must inch out some concern if it hasn’t already done so. It must force a rethink of what we do today and moving forward. So what were the key takeaways from this latest announcement?

Aside from the staggering figure, it has to be the fact that people are still engaging in unsafe behaviour! They are still attending large gatherings.

Understandably there are emotional aspects to consider, however, the fact remains, the virus moves when we move!

Think about what Dr Fong said: “This increase was not unexpected, but it should serve to show how easily this virus is transmitted and why restrictions are in place.”

This was Fred Wesley’s editorial yesterday before the announcement of 46 new cases.

EDITORIAL: Doing this together

In his announcement at 5.14pm yesterday [Friday], the Permanent Secretary for Health and Medical Services Dr James Fong confirmed 22 new cases of covid-19.

By 7.31pm, there were six more new cases added to this number, taking the total to 28 new cases yesterday.

Breaking down the cases in the earlier announcement, one was a resident of Kinoya with no links to other cases at the early stage of investigation, two were connected to the Queen Elizabeth Barracks cluster, seven were connected to the Navy cluster and 12 were residents of Vunivivi in Nausori.

They were connected through a common exposure event — a funeral!

In the late announcement, four cases were connected to the Muanikoso cluster and two to the Vunivivi cluster.

The rising number is surely going to attract interest.

In fact, it is going to raise concern as well.

There will be a great sense of apprehension, uncertainty, great fear, doubt, insecurity, frustration and anger.

It is not unusual that Fijians will look up to the powers that be for reassurance.

They will seek that and hope the powers that be are accommodating.

They will look to them for guidance, and to give them confidence to move forward.

They will need to be reassured enough to not panic in the face of the rising numbers daily.

So lest we forget though, let’s not panic right now.

Understandably it would be encouraging to get some semblance of order first up.

However, perhaps we can be buoyed by the fact that with the exception of one, all the other cases are actually connected to known clusters.

Whatever your take is on the growing numbers, we may take comfort in the fact that the outbreak right now is in the Suva-Nausori area.

Most of the new cases in recent days were discovered through contact tracing investigations for known cases.

This, according to Dr Fong, is an indicator that our contact tracing efforts are effective.

Now for the serious bit! The revelation that significant escalations in daily case numbers have been largely driven by the fact that recent cases have been linked to large households or workplace groups, funeral gatherings and the associated grog sessions in big groups is obviously a major concern.

Then there is the connection to a common exposure event — a funeral!

There can be no doubts about what we must do moving forward.

There can be no social gathering! In fact we should just stay home, within our little safe bubbles.

The virus will not move if we stay still. Thousands of Fijians are already doing their bit for the greater good of our nation. They are staying home.

They are staying within their bubbles. They are adhering to physical distancing rules. Together we must stay on course.

The Fiji Times editorial, 28 May 2021.

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