Editorial comment: Decision time

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama gets vaccinated by staff nurse Aqela Wainiqolo. Picture: SUPPLIED.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama labelled it an injection of hope. The PM and his wife Mary received their AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccinations at the Republic of Fiji Navy Stanley Brown Naval Base in Walu Bay, Suva this week.

“Being vaccinated is our duty to keep our loved ones safe and set Fiji on a path to recovery,” he said.

It was natural for people to raise questions about the vaccination and their health, he said, which was why the Ministry of Health and Medical Services had set up a dedicated hotline – 158 – to answer any queries.

“These vaccines are safe, effective and backed by the miracle of modern medicine and it’s also why Mary and I didn’t have to think twice.”

Minister for Fisheries Semi Koroilavesau and the Republic of Fiji Navy Commander Humphrey Tawake also received their vaccination shots along with 300 personnel of the Fiji Navy.

In the face of that important event, a 56-year-old woman is Fiji’s latest COVID-19 border quarantine case.

A Ministry of Health and Medical Services statement confirmed the woman arrived in the country from Sacramento, USA, on March 25 and returned a weak positive result when undergoing 14 days of quarantine at a government-supervised quarantine facility in Nadi.

There are two active cases in the country and both are admitted to the isolation ward at the Lautoka Hospital. Fiji has had 68 cases with 64 recoveries and two deaths since the first case was reported on March 19, 2020. There are 872 recent arrivals from overseas undergoing the mandatory 14-day quarantine.

Meanwhile, on the international front, the World Health Organization reported that as of April 6, globally, new COVID-19 cases rose for a sixth consecutive week, with over 4 million new cases reported in the past week.

The number of new deaths, it stated, also increased by 11 per cent compared to last week, with over 71,000 new deaths reported.

Back home, while we are buoyed by the fact that we are one of the few countries in the world that are COVID-contained, we still must ask the question – what do we do next as the economy continues to take a battering? For our borders to reopen, there has to be safety in terms of protection against the virus.

That will mean vaccinations. One of the keys to us being able to turn our economic wheels again lies in our borders reopening.

Understandably there will be a leaning towards safety first, and ensuring Fijians are effectively protected against the virus.

It’s a challenge the State will have to address.

That will mean creating a level of awareness and confidence in the masses to be part of any plan to protect us all.

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