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Fiji coronaviris restrictions to remain in full effect: PM

A soldier helps mobile screening teams carry out door-to-door tests in Suva. Photo: Supplied/Fiji govt. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

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SUVA, May 17, 2020, RNZ. Fiji prime minister Frank Bainimara has announced the continuation of Covid-19 restrictions in the country despite almost a month without a new case. In his national address on Friday (May 15) Mr Bainimara said the country cannot risk a second wave of infections, Radio New Zealand reported.

“The nationwide curfew will remain in effect from 10 pm until 5 am every day. Social gatherings must be limited to 20 people or fewer,” Frank Bainimarama said.

“Gyms, nightclubs, cinemas and swimming pools will remain closed, as will houses of worship. Contact sports are still not allowed to be played. Our schools will remain closed as well until the 12th of June 2020,” he said.

The prime minister said government would finalise plans for a gradual scale back of some of the Covid-19 restrictions in the weeks ahead.

“But I want to be crystal clear with every person watching: No matter how confident we are that this virus has been defeated, our most critical restrictions aren’t going anywhere,” Mr Bainimarama said.

“The good habits that we’ve picked up over the past few months — physical distancing, regular handwashing, staying home or wearing face masks when we’re sick, not sharing takis and bilos, and keeping a clean working environment — must become new ways of Fijian life,” Mr Bainimarama said.

Frank Bainimarama said already over 800,000 Fijians have undergone health screening through what he described as the largest healthcare mobilisation campaign in Fijian history.

“In the coming weeks we will massively step-up testing as well. We are also actively looking at new and innovative ways to prevent a resurgence of the disease,” Mr Bainimara said.

Mr Bainimarama said if no new cases are recorded today, it will mark four full weeks without a new case of COVID-19 in Fiji.

“On top of that victory, we’re also confirming our 15th full recovery of the virus, meaning only three active cases remain.”

But Frank Bainimarama also said even as Fiji celebrates these victories everyone must remain vigilant.

“As tight as our safety nets may be — there is always a chance that an asymptomatic case has slipped through undetected,” Frank Bainimarama said.

“We have no evidence to suggest this is the case, but it is still a risk we must consider, because all it takes is one case, one super-spreader, to provoke a Fijian epidemic of COVID-19,” he said.

Early next week, Bainimarama said the Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum will announce the second round of COVID-19 unemployment benefits to be paid out.

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