Fiji declares 'only fully vaccinated' allowed to enter the country

Author
RNZ,
Publish Date
Sat, 4 Sep 2021, 1:06PM
Vaccinations being rolled out on Lakeba Island in Fiji. (Photo / Fiji Ministry of Health)
Vaccinations being rolled out on Lakeba Island in Fiji. (Photo / Fiji Ministry of Health)

Fiji declares 'only fully vaccinated' allowed to enter the country

Author
RNZ,
Publish Date
Sat, 4 Sep 2021, 1:06PM

By RNZ 

Only fully vaccinated travellers will be allowed entry into Fiji. 

The government confirmed this week the only exemptions would be "a few emergencies". 

Despite the Covid-19 outbreak, now spread to the country's remote islands, the government is optimistic international travel will resume soon. 

Fiji expects to reopen its border in November this year. 

The government also expects to vaccinate at least 60 per cent of the target population by the end of October. 

As of September 1, a total of 560,940 adults in Fiji have received their first dose of the vaccine and 278,131 got both jabs. 

The Health Ministry said this means 96 per cent of the target population have received at least one dose and 48.4 per cent are now fully vaccinated nationwide. 

The ministry said preparations are underway for new Covid variants, reportedly more transmissible than the deadly Delta. 

International scientists have reported they are unsure how effective existing vaccines would be against C.1.2, a new variant. 

The variant was detected in South Africa in May and in New Zealand in June. 

Permanent Secretary for Health, Dr James Fong. Photo / Supplied

Permanent Secretary for Health, Dr James Fong. Photo / Supplied 

Fiji's Health Secretary James Fong said only fully vaccinated people would be allowed into the country, apart from a few emergencies. 

Fong said it was important for Fijians to treat any Covid-19 variant as dangerous. 

He said everybody had some control over their exposure to the virus. 

He said a special team led by Sam Fullman - from the ministry's border health team - with military and police personnel would provide the leadership needed to strengthen quarantine operations in Fiji. 

Fong said a border health protection facility had been established in the Civil Aviation Authority of Fiji (CAAF) compound at Namaka, Nadi, to address any MIQ issues. 

"We are also setting up a container laboratory in Namaka which has the capacity to process around 500 tests per day," he said. 

Fong said the ministry would also establish a slot management system with Fiji Airways to put a cap on quarantine capacity to more manageable levels. 

He said all personnel engaged in quarantine operations were fully vaccinated and strengthened by CCTV support and increased oversight. 

Fiji's Minister for Industry, Trade and Tourism, Faiyaz Koya. Photo / Fiji Govt

Fiji's Minister for Industry, Trade and Tourism, Faiyaz Koya. Photo / Fiji Govt 

Fong said the team also wanted to create a no-blame environment where the ministry's quarantine teams felt safe from discrimination for reporting any breaches or if anyone was feeling unwell. 

"History has taught us many lessons, the scale-up required by this crisis has been phenomenal and we need to continue to adapt and learn as we respond." 

Last month, Tourism and Trade Minister Faiyaz Koya said the relevant industry partners had developed a re-opening framework. 

Koya said Fiji's goal was to safely re-open travel and tourism by December 2021 which was predicated on national vaccination rates. 

"Our preparation is largely attributed to how we have come together, with a shared vision, to ramp up co-ordination," Koya said. 

He said the travel proposition had two goals: firstly, to minimise risks and keep both tourists and Fijians safe and secondly, to ease restrictions to maintain competitiveness. 

"National factors will largely focus on acceptable test positivity and vaccination rates, as well as any new variant of concern. 

"And, of course, on an individual level, we will look at vaccination status." 

Fiji now has more than 16,000 active cases in isolation and the death toll is more than 500.