Fiji has announced a 56-hour curfew as it rushes to trace contacts of a garment factory worker diagnosed with coronavirus amid the nation’s first cases for a year.
While the capital, Suva was put into lockdown last week for 14 days after a handful of cases spread in the community after emerging from a quarantine hotel, officials have announced a curfew over the weekend, with none of the 100,000 residents allowed to leave their homes.
One of the new cases is a woman who worked in a garment factory, with her diagnosis sparking the crack-down.
She worked with almost 900 people and officials said in a statement they have only managed to test 300, and need to find hundreds more.
“We cannot waste another minute locating the rest of them,” Permanent Secretary for Health and Medical Services, Dr James Fong said.
“To allow my teams to find these Fijians quickly, we will be locking down the Suva and Nausori Containment zones from 2000 hours tonight until 0400 hours Monday morning.
“No one should leave their homes… I say it again, within the lockdown zone, no one, not parents, not breadwinners, not children, no one should leave their homes.
“The capital and the Nausori corridor will be on war-footing.
“We have 56 hours to break as many chains of COVID transmission as possible.
“My teams — alongside the members of our disciplined forces — will be taking full advantage of this opportunity to get ahead of the spread of this virus.
“Unless you are travelling for a medical emergency or the Ministry has issued you a special clearance, it will be considered an offence and the police will arrest you.”
Most businesses, including supermarkets, will close in the island nation which pre-pandemic, was a popular spot for Australians to holiday.
The government said it will arrange food packages for people who need them.
Fiji reported one new case today, in the wife of another patient, out of more than 1000 tests. Yesterday there were five new cases.
Last week, the nation closed schools and cancelled sporting events as it announced its first coronavirus cases outside of quarantine in more than a year.
Fiji Air also cancelled all flights until May 8.
A soldier and a room cleaner at a quarantine hotel tested positive.
But at that stage, there wasn’t any indication so far that the virus was spreading more widely in the community.
However, Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said the nation was again facing a “grave and present danger.”
The government ordered all gyms, bars and theatres within two containment zones closed and large gatherings were cancelled for at least two weeks.
Home to a little under a million people, Fiji has recorded just two virus deaths and 166 cases since the pandemic began, but experts fear its health system would be ill-equipped to deal with a major outbreak.
The nation has its own contact tracing app for mobile phones, CareFiji.