Fiji in lockdown after first community-based transmission of COVID-19 in twelve months

Communities in Fiji are still recovering from the damage after Tropical Cyclone Yasa in December 2020. Photo: Fiji Broadcasting Corporation.

Fiji’s two largest cities are in lockdown after the first reported case of COVID-19 community transmission in 12 months. Health authorities have linked the case to a 53-year-old woman from Nadi who was in contact with a soldier in the country’s hotel quarantine system. Five more cases have since been detected.  

Residents of Nadi and Lautoka went into lockdown early on Monday morning, and Fijians across the country have been advised to stay at home.  

This potential second outbreak of COVID-19 comes at a challenging time for Fiji, as the country continues to rebuild and recover from the devastating tropical cyclones, Yasa and Ana. Many Fijians are also facing financial challenges, due to the travel restrictions imposed as a result of the pandemic. Tourism typically contributes to at least 40 per cent of Fiji’s GDP and locals are struggling to make up the lost income.  

“This community transmission is really worrying, because the healthcare system in Fiji already faces significant challenges reaching people in remote areas,” said Damaris PfendtCaritas Australia’s Humanitarian Program Coordinator for the Pacific 

“Some people have little to no access to basic health services without travelling for several hours, and now that travel is discouraged, these communities will have even more trouble accessing healthcare, which puts them at greater risk of complications from COVID-19 or other diseases.” 

“A lot of the communities we work with are also still rebuilding and recovering from the last cyclone season. Recovering from a cyclone isn’t as simple as rebuilding destroyed houses, but a lengthy process that involves rebuilding key infrastructure that has been lost, and in many cases developing new ways to make money after crops have been destroyed.” 

Caritas Australia is supporting Caritas Fiji to help communities in Fiji to rebuild from disaster and prepare for future crises. Caritas Australia is accepting donations to help support vulnerable communities in the Pacific through the Pacific Emergency Appeal.