PM urges Fijians to be vigilant

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama. Picture: SUPPLIED

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has sounded the warning for Fijians to be aware of the new coronavirus variant, suspected to be worse than the Delta variant, that has been discovered in South Africa this week.

He sounded the alarm during the opening of new classrooms at the Muaira District School in Lutu, Naitasiri on Friday.

People have been urged to get the vaccine and continue to follow COVID-safety protocols.

Meanwhile, WHO declared the new coronavirus variant to be “of concern” and named it Omicron.

It received the first report on the new variant on November 24.

Speaking at the opening of new classrooms at Muaira District School in Lutu, Naitasiri on Friday, he urged people to be extra careful, get vaccinated and maintain COVID-19 restrictions with Fiji opening its international borders on December 1.

Europe, he said, had put a ban on people from Africa from travelling to their countries.

For people over 60 years or those that suffer from asthma, diabetes and other sicknesses, Mr Bainimarama said these were the ones doctors wanted to be jabbed because their chances of dying of COVID-19 was high.

He said people failed to understand that the COVID-19 virus would not go away anytime soon and that most people who refused to get jabbed are thinking that they would not get it.

“Kivei kemuni na sega tiko ni via cula, mo ni kila tiko, e sa lako tiko mai qo e dua tale na variant vou e kaukauwa cake sara mai na Delta, e kune mai Aferika. (For people refusing to get jabbed, be aware that another variant of COVID-19 is coming, it is worse than the Delta variant and it was discovered in Africa).”

Mr Bainimarama said he had advised the Ministry of Health permanent secretary, Dr James Fong, to start putting emphasis on the need to follow COVID-19 restrictions because he had seen that people were starting to ignore this, such as, the wearing of masks and maintaining social distancing. He said the increase in COVID-19 cases in countries that had opened up international borders were caused by locals who failed to adhere to COVID-19 protocols and not tourists.

He said he had seen people had started to be complacent about COVID-19 protocols after 90 per cent of the target population received the second dose of the vaccine.

According to WHO, it declared the new coronavirus variant to be “of concern” and named it Omicron – having numerous mutations and an increased reinfection risk.

WHO first received a report of this new coronavirus variant on November 24.

It has been identified in Botswana, Belgium, Hong Kong and Israel.

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