Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Nonessential activity to be suspended in Suva, Fiji from April 3; nationwide nightly curfew, other COVID-19 restrictions continue.

This alert affects Fiji

This alert began 01 Apr 2020 22:29 GMT and is scheduled to expire 29 Apr 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Travel bans, curfews, business and transport disruptions, quarantine measures

Summary
Fijian authorities have introduced or extended measures to halt the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Effective 0500 April 3, officials have ordered a two-week suspension of all nonessential activity across the Greater Suva area, including the capital, Suva; ongoing restrictions for the Greater Lautoka area will be extended through at least 0500 April 7.

Until restrictions are relaxed, a cordon preventing all transport to and from Greater Suva and Greater Lautoka will remain in place. Business restrictions - other than for those providing essential and emergency services - will continue. Although transport services, banks, as well as shops selling food, fuel, medicine, and other essential items will function normally, panic buying may lead to localized shortages in some areas. Restaurants and transport services will enforce social distancing rules, affecting capacity. Increased security is likely, as reports indicate some residents have disobeyed government orders. Officials on Bau Island have also banned most tourist and domestic travel to the island. Daily workers are allowed to travel to and from Viti Levu; relatives of island residents are also permitted but are required to undergo health screenings.

Nationwide measures such as a nightly curfew will continue, with an extended duration of 2000-0500 from April 3. Police will monitor roads during the curfew and will send people home except for work or life-threatening reasons. Businesses with shift workers during the curfew hours are required to provide employees with a letter of their work requirements and hours, as well as an official contact number in the event officials want to verify the information. Authorities have called on residents to practice social distancing and banned all public gatherings from April 3, regardless of size. Officials have advised businesses to ensure a maximum of 20 employees gather at the workplace by facilitating telecommuting.

Flag carrier Fiji Airways (FJ) has suspended all domestic flights as of April 2 to abide by government orders to halt inter-island travel. Officials previously banned passenger ferries to outer islands March 29, though goods shipments between islands will continue. Authorities have closed Nadi International Airport (NAN) indefinitely as of April 2.

Travel Restrictions

The government continues to ban people who have traveled to the US, Europe, the UK, Iran, South Korea, and mainland China. All arrivals, regardless of nationality, must undergo 14-day self-quarantine after entering Fiji. The government has also banned all cruise ships from docking. Authorities could expand travel restrictions and self-quarantine requirements further in the coming days.

Background and Analysis
The measures adopted by the government correspond with similar actions taken by other regional governments in recent days in response to the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Advice
Follow all official instructions; minimize outdoor activity to the extent possible. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm business appointments, deliveries, work, and travel arrangements. Do not check out of accommodation without confirming onward travel. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments.

Exercise basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

Resources
Fijian Government: www.fiji.gov.fj

Fiji Airways: www.fijiairways.com

World Health Organisation (WHO): www.who.int