Editorial comment – Remain cautious
28 September, 2021, 3:15 pm
Permanent secretary for Ministry Health and Medical Services Dr James Fong made a statement during his daily COVID-19 briefing on Sunday that should attract attention.
He said, as the second dose coverage increased and a greater portion of our population become fully vaccinated against COVID-19, local and international travel restrictions and other social and workplace engagement restrictions would be gradually lifted.
However, he said, members of the public should remain cautious about how they engaged in the greater freedoms they would enjoy.
While the easing of restrictions, he said, was needed to facilitate social and economic livelihood, there were issues that had to be factored in our lives moving forward.
That includes us ensuring “that together with vaccination, we should continue to observe our COVID-safe measures and avoid contained spaces and crowds to avoid the risk of increased spread of the virus”.
There would always be people vulnerable to the virus, he warned, even as our vaccination coverage increased.
“We have one-third of the population under 18 years and who will soon be eligible for vaccination. We will have older people with comorbidities who, although having better protection with vaccination, their ability to build up vaccine immunity is not as good as younger and healthier persons,” he warned.
A major concern, he pointed out, was the fact that there were unvaccinated people in our communities who are also not exposed to the virus, “and hence do not have any protection against the disease, and among them are elderly persons and those with serious comorbidities”.
However, he said, the potential for transmission in any community would be slower, and the ability to contain the outbreak better, when we achieve a high vaccination rate and also maintain strict adherence to COVID safe measures.
There is another interesting point to note as well.
Our national 7-day average daily test positivity is 9.8 per cent, which according to Dr Fong, is on a downward trend, but it still is indicating a high level of community transmission.
This is a concern.
It seems many Fijians have been living dangerously ever since the containment borders were lifted on Viti Levu.
They appear to believe we are out of danger.
They appear to believe the virus is no longer with us, or is slowing going away.
They seem to believe they are immune to the effects of this deadly virus.
We simply cannot afford to be living in a state of mistaken belief that we are out of danger!
Our death rate is shockingly high.
Too many Fijians have died in the second wave.
There have now been 590 deaths due to COVID-19 in Fiji, with 588 of these deaths during the second wave that started in April this year.
We must never forget this.
Adhere to every COVID-safety rule.
Listen to expert health advice.
Wear your mask properly and wash your hands often with soap and water.
Let’s stay on course Fiji.