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Fijian officials say border will remained closed until there are no more community Covid cases

Fiji will not consider any international arrivals until there are no cases of Covid-19 in the community, the government said.

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It comes after a mild outbreak on the main island Viti Levu. Source: Breakfast

The country has been battling a low-level outbreak on Viti Levu, with two more community cases confirmed on Monday taking the total to over 30.

There are also more than 15 cases in managed isolation while four are being investigated over their source of transmission.

Arrivals from all countries had been banned since April 22, and Health secretary Dr James Fong said he could not see this ending soon.

But Dr Fong told a media conference the only exceptions were Fijians travelling for medical procedures and those with special approval granted by the Health Ministry.

Fiji had suspended all international passenger flights from all countries on April 22, he said.

"We are not labelling countries as high-risk or low-risk - we simply are not taking passengers from any countries at all.

"Our quarantine capacity has been directed entirely dedicated towards contacts of local cases in Fiji."

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Medical officials are desperately trying to trace close contacts of positive cases. Source: 1 NEWS

Fong said before the ministry would 'even' consider reopening international passenger travel to Fiji, 'we need a much firmer grasp on this outbreak'.

Given the outbreak's index case was at the border, Fong said the ministry would be revamping its managed isolation quarantine (MIQ) facilities with additional CCTV cameras.

He said the ministry would also strengthen its Covid-19 protocols to "protect against human error to an even more stringent degree than before".

Meanwhile, the government is not considering relaxing restriction measures for any of the six containment zones throughout the main island Viti Levu just yet until it was clear of the risks there.

There are six containment areas including Suva and Lautoka cities, and Nausori, Lami, Rakiraki and Nadi towns.

Fong said the borders of each zone were highly restricted and movement within these areas were limited.

"We are not considering rolling back the measures for any of these zones until we have a clearer idea of the risk posed to the public," he Fong said.

"That will require more tests, more screening and quite simply more time."

Fong said this was because the virus may be laying in wait within any of those containment areas, and "time is the only strategy that will expose those cases".

"If we give in to the urge to relax restrictions too early, we may lose our chance to contain the virus for good."

That had happened elsewhere, he said, and the ministry was doing all it could for this not to happen in Fiji.

Govt considers reopening schools

The return of students to school will depend entirely on the country's Covid-19 situation.

Dr Fong said the Health and Education ministries were considering reopening schools on May 24. The schools had been closed since April 19.

Getting the children back in class was an urgent priority for the ministry, he said.

"Until such time, parents must keep their children at home. Do not bring them shopping, do not send them out with friends. Please, keep them at home.

"As we shift into the next phase of containment, we are prioritising non-school isolation facilities so that - once it's safe - we're ready to resume classes."

"Our students are currently learning from home, which has to suffice for now.

"But there is a proven benefit to in-person learning."

Fong said each day students were kept away from school 'risks long-term harm to our human capital'.

Alcohol, kava linked to Covid-19 protocol breaches

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A curfew and other restrictions remain in place, Fijian reporter Filipe Naikaso told Breakfast. Source: Breakfast

Despite repeated warnings, some members of the community remained defiant and were disregarding the restrictions imposed during in the Suva-Nausori containment areas.

Since the snap-lockdown last weekend, more than 100 people have been arrested for breach of health restrictions and curfew orders

Police said alcohol and drinking kava continued to be linked to these breaches as six of the eight cases recorded over the last 24-hours were found drunk.

Police warned there were consequences for those breaching restrictions.

Acting Police Commissioner Rusiate Tudravu said the message was very clear from police, and he hoped people listened to these necessary precautions.

* Fiji now has 51 active cases in isolation, 16 border quarantine cases, 31 locally transmitted cases, 4 under investigation to determine source of transmission. Fiji now has had a total of 121 cases, 68 recovered and two deaths since the first case was announced on March 19, 2020.

* A total of 54,988 tests conducted since testing began in 2020;

* 970 average daily tests conducted in the last 7 days;

* 5995 weekly average tests over the last 2 weeks;

* Record 6821 tests conducted in the last week;

* 1736 tests conducted alone on Sunday, May 2.

rnz.co.nz