The Fijian Ministry of Health and Medical
Services is closely monitoring the current outbreak of 2019 novel coronavirus
(2019 – nCoV) in China and is continuing its efforts to prepare for its
potential introduction to Fiji. At present there are no confirmed cases of 2019
– nCoV in Fiji, or any other Pacific island country.

What is Fiji doing?

In response to the increased threat of 2019
– nCoV, the Fijian Ministry of Health and Medical Services is working closely
with relevant Government ministries, World Health Organization and partners to
enhance its public health systems to rapidly detect, test and respond if a case
is identified in Fiji.  This is because international spread of the
disease is best stopped by rapid containment efforts at the source, and early
detection and response, not by implementing unnecessary restrictions to
international travel. Travel bans have been proven to be ineffective in
stopping infectious diseases crossing borders, and may in fact worsen the
impact of an outbreak. Fiji did not impose travel bans during the SARS epidemic
in 2003 nor the H1N1 influenza (swine flu) pandemic in 2009. Most countries
worldwide have not implemented travel bans in response to this outbreak in
China, and they are not recommended by the World Health Organisation.

Alongside other countries globally,
including New Zealand, Australia and the United States, Fiji has intensified
efforts to reduce the risk of the virus being introduced and spreading in Fiji
through a multilayered approach, including early identification of cases at the
international borders and in the community, targeted awareness for high-risk
persons, in particular travelers visiting or returning from affected areas, and
enhancing the skills and resources of our health staff to rapidly respond if a
case is identified.

As a core part of Fiji’s preparedness for
possible introduction of the virus, the Ministry is working with international
border control stakeholders, including airlines and airport and port
authorities, to enhance existing mechanisms to detect ill travelers at
international points of entry. Under Fijian legislation, airlines and vessels
are required to report any ill passengers prior to disembarking. All travellers
arriving on flights from Hong Kong and Singapore undergo additional health
screening. And as an added health screening measure, all incoming passengers
will soon be required to complete s supplementary arrivals card – an Arrival
Health Declaration Form- to help ensure all travelers are checked for their
potential exposure to the virus. 

On Wednesday 29 January, the Fijian Ministry
of Health and Medical Services will begin providing refresher training to
health workers on infection prevention and control measures, ensuring they are
aware and equipped with the correct procedures and protective wear to safely
respond to any potential cases.

What can you do?

Whilst we await further information about
this new disease, at this time the Fijian Ministry of Health and Medical
Services wishes to remind the public that staying calm and continuing to
practice good hygiene is important in helping to protect them against many
diseases. 

This includes:

  • Frequently cleaning
    hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water;
  • When coughing and
    sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – throw tissue away
    immediately and wash hands;
  • Avoid close contact
    with anyone who has fever and cough;
  • Avoid
    non-essential travel to mainland China
  • If you have been to
    China in the last 14 days and develop any of the symptoms (fever, cough or
    difficulty breathing), immediately contact one of the numbers listed below. If
    you need to see a doctor please call ahead, using the following phone
    numbers, before visiting to reduce the risk of infecting other patients.

Central
2219905  Eastern 2219906  Western 2219907  Northern 2219908

The Fijian Ministry of Health and Medical
Services is monitoring the developing situation and will provide updates
regularly to the public.  

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