COVID-19: Man smuggles way into Lautoka confined area

Police checkpoint in Suva. PICTURE: FILE

A man who recently returned from Uruguay and smuggled his way into Lautoka has been tested for COVID-19 after displaying symptoms.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said the man not only had fever but was also displaying other symptoms.

His test results will be released this morning.

“Upon further investigation, we discovered that one of these fevers belonged to a man who was not only displaying other symptoms, but also had a recent travel history – a history he was hiding from officials,” Mr Bainimarama said.

“He arrived in Fiji on March 24, from Uruguay, transiting through Singapore. Now, you might be wondering how this gentleman arrived in Lautoka when the lockdown came into effect on March 19.

“After further questioning, we discovered that he had in fact smuggled his way into the confined area.”

He said the man appeared to have remained within a set area in Lautoka.

“Now that he’s showing symptoms, our contact tracing teams are determining how many Fijians he may have put at-risk.

“In the meantime, our contact tracing team has determined the area in which this gentleman stayed.”

Government plans to lift the lockdown of the greater Lautoka area at 5am today, but a new confined area within Lautoka would be announced later today based on the man’s movements.

When questioned about the breach given the heavy police security at the Lautoka borders, Police Commissioner Brigadier-General Sitiveni Qiliho said it was important to remember the terrain they were dealing with in Lautoka was rugged hill country.

“There are rivers and creeks, thick and dense forest areas that we have to deal with,” Brig-Gen Qiliho said.

“We have got a seafront to deal with and with all we have to look after, we can’t position policemen at every inch of that ground. So there are gaps there that we rely on the responsibility of the people that are also covering with technology that we have recently acquired.

“But those are the areas these people are exploiting as well. Same issues are happening in the Suva lockdown area and we are dealing with it.”

(Editor’s note: This article was published in The Fiji Times on Tuesday, April 07, 2020)

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