The
Fijian Ministry of Health and Medical Services is closely monitoring the
developments surrounding the 2019 novel coronavirus in Wuhan China. We are also
following advice by the World Health Organisation with regards to prevention of
spread of this newly identified virus. An advisory group of relevant experts,
including the WHO, have met and advised on a response to the current situation.
In accordance with these recommendations, the response in Fiji will be based on
evidence and international best practice, while adapting to our local context.

What
is the Ministry doing?

Our
response is multilayered with a focus on the mitigation of spread in Fiji
through: early identification of cases at the international borders and in the
community, targeted awareness for high-risk persons (e.g those who have
travelled to the outbreak area), awareness for the general public to reduce
their risk, and readiness of our health staff to respond to any cases.

International
border control is one part of our response, and we are working with the
relevant stakeholders, including airport authorities and airlines, to enhance
existing mechanisms for detecting ill travellers at the international point of
entry. As routine procedure airlines are required to report if there are ill
passengers on board. If a flight reports an ill passenger, they are assessed by
health staff on the ground and managed as appropriate. 

There
are no direct flights from Wuhan to Fiji. However, we do have flights from Hong
Kong and Singapore that may serve as connections for passengers from Wuhan.
Therefore, we are introducing additional health screening measures for
passengers disembarking from flights that originate in Hong Kong and Singapore.
Passengers on these flights will be met upon arrival by our officers, who will
review the health declaration on immigration cards and request information on
recent travel to Wuhan. Passengers who have recently traveled to Wuhan and are
suspected to have the disease will be managed according to existing protocols.
Travellers from Wuhan who are not ill will be given information about the
disease and what to do if they develop symptoms later. These measures may
change as the situation develops.

Border
health screening may not absolutely prevent cases from entering Fiji because a
person who has been exposed to the virus may be completely well for about 7-14
days before they have any symptoms of the disease. Therefore, we have also
alerted our healthcare to be extra vigilant  should there be a member of
the public  presenting with symptoms of the disease including prior
history of travel to Wuhan. Early detection and response will help prevent any
further spread in Fiji. 

What
can Fijians do?

We
are advising against travel to Wuhan in Hubei province China.

There
is currently no vaccine against this new disease, but we advise Fijians to
practice the following hygiene measures that will also prevent infection with a
number of other diseases:

  • Cover
    your mouth and nose with tissue, sleeve, or elbow when coughing or sneezing.
    Throw the tissue into a close bin after use. Clean hands after coughing and
    sneezing and when caring for the sick
  • Wash
    your hands with soap and running water if visibly dirty. If your hands are not
    visibly dirty, wash them with soap and water or use an alcohol based hand
    cleanser.

The
Ministry of Health and Medical Services will continue to monitor the developing
situation and will provide updates accordingly. 

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