Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama has announced that lockdown measures will be implemented across the greater Suva area from 05:00 (local time) on Friday, April 3, as part of efforts to prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). Under the lockdown all non-essential businesses will be closed and people will be asked to stay at home, with only those traveling for medical purposes being allowed through checkpoints. The measures were announced after two more cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in the capital, bringing the national total to seven cases. Lautoka, on Viti Levu's west coast, has already been under lockdown for two weeks.
An overnight nationwide curfew came into effect on Monday, March 30, between 22:00 and 05:00. As of Thursday, April 2, police officials have reported that over 160 people have been arrested for violating the curfew. Police officers have reportedly increased patrols in response to the number of violations.
All scheduled flights have been suspended at Nadi International Airport (NAN) since March 26 and internal travel has also been limited. Authorities have prohibited all passenger travel to the outer islands from March 29. Schools remain closed until at least April 17 and further extensions are possible depending on the situation.
Further international spread of the virus is expected over the coming days and weeks.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.