The entire world is in a battle against the COVID-19’ waves and variants, but a ray of hope has begun to emerge in Fiji, where it had noticed a surge in coronavirus numbers in the last few months.
Many showed discontent with Fiji’s government policy of “No Jab, No Job” policy that was made compulsory for Fiji’s civil servants and private sector, where the government had argued the mandatory vaccination are necessary to raise immunisation rates and end the outbreak .
It gave dates to get a first and second dose of vaccination, although it may be a tough policy to imply but the government also must be frustrated “at the widespread flouting of virus safety measures such as social distancing and wearing masks, blamed in part for a huge spike in infection”
The measures make common sense in order to make human bodies more immunised to fight against this virus, despite criticism this preventive action is the way forward.
Pacific Islanders are more vulnerable to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the Pacific, but despite a scarcity of resources compared to Western developed nations, Fiji and its government are implying to adopt all possible means to curb the coronavirus disease 2019.
This article summarises the effective measures adopted by Fiji to contain the second wave of the pandemic.
Ray of Hope: Fiji’s PM Frank Bainimarama leads the way
Lockdowns, quarantine, self-isolation and social distancing, personal protective measures, herd immunity, swift surveillance, enhance testing, vaccination drive against COVID-19 are the widely adopted emergency and preventive measures to contain and reduce transmission of coronavirus.
Until last year, the entire world was waiting for its vaccination, then came the phase of vaccination shortage, followed by measures taken to start the vaccination drive and convincing masses to get themselves vaccinated willfully.
Many of these islands have small tourism-based economies where it is challenging to enforce strict extended nationwide lockdowns, and they also lack a robust health system. Despite some of these challenges, Fiji has worked exceptionally well compared to the other Small Island Developing States in the vaccination drive.
PM of Fiji Frank Bainimarama states, “The more Fijians we vaccinated, the more lives we will save and the more freedom we can restore.”
“That means getting our houses of worship back open and that means playing sports again, getting our businesses fully open, fully restoring our freedom to move and gather, and re-opening Fiji to our friends around the world. We are close, Fiji. But we need to finish the Job.”
Recently, Fiji is relaxing its mobility restrictions, with the government announcing new curfew hours to reflect improvement in the COVID-19 vaccination drive. Fiji’s PM stated “50% of adult in Fiji are fully vaccinated which has allowed us to move the curfew hours from 8.00pm-4am.
At 60% : 9pm-4am curfew and the containment areas on Viti Levu will left. At 70%: 10pm-4am curfew. At 80: 11pm-4am curfew”. These words give a ray of hope to revive the normal life at the earliest, getting jab becomes the social responsibility for eradicating or containing the risk of the virus.
PM Bainimarama commenced innovative measures to promote vaccination through “Win Together Sweepstakes”- a national lottery for Fijians who have fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The objective of this measure is to safeguard more lives and attempt to restore freedom.
“I’ve said it before and I will say it again: the best reward for being vaccinated isn’t money. It is the protection that vaccines provide against a deadly virus and the lives that they save. This national lottery is our “thank you” to the Fijians who are taking the time to follow the science, register, and become fully vaccinated”
Further, the government stated “as of tonight, over 96% of adults in Fiji have received one dose. But one dose is not enough, we have to make sure all of these folks get the full protection of two doses. If you have one dose, do not skip dose number two.
When you are fully-vaccinated, not only will you be more protected against COVID-19, you will be eligible to enter our next draw on Fiji Day, where we’ll have more opportunities for more fully-vaccinated Fijians. We will be awarding a total of 51,000 dollars in prize money to ten winners –– so 5,100 dollars each –– in honour of our 51st anniversary of independence.”
The attractive financial gain through lottery shall attract many to get vaccinated, as the government is making sincere efforts to make the vaccination drive successful.
Fiji’s latest vaccination updated issued “As of 9 September, 568,246 adults in Fiji have received their first dose of the vaccine and 329,849 have received their second doses.
This means that 96.9% of the target population have received at least one dose and 56.2% are now fully vaccinated nationwide.
The data represents the vaccination has been in full force and plans are made to accomplish the maximum adult vaccination followed by children.
Together we can defeat the COVID-19, and the measures adopted by the Australian neighbour are praiseworthy, although Fiji may not be highly medically advance as big brothers like Australia and New Zealand.
But the government is making sincere efforts to curb the horror of COVID-19 and contain the cases through a nationwide vaccination drive, restricted curfew hours, “Win Together Sweepstakes”, ‘no jab, no job’ policy. Some may disagree with official records or their policies, but the fact of the matter is the ray of hope through vaccination with reduction of cases and curfew hours have positive outcomes.
Lastly, the government can only make preventive policies and attempt to enforce them, but the responsibility for success lies on the shoulders of the individual to observe them to make it successful, rather than blaming each other. Humanity needs freedom to support each other to follow the immunisation willfully to secure oneself and the family members.
Author: Dr Sakul Kundra, A.HOD Department of Social Science, College of Humanities and Education, Fiji National University.