Editorial comment – Panic buying reality

Customers line up outside the Shop N Save supermarket in Valelevu, Nasinu on Saturday, April 24, 2021. Picture: JONACANI LALAKOBAU

What took place on Tuesday in many parts of the Capital City shouldn’t have happened.

But it did!

There was mass panic brought about by rumours of an impending national lockdown.

Where it stemmed from, whether via social media, or a news story, it is hard to tell.

But there was chaos in some instances, and general panic.

Lines of shoppers stretched outside supermarket entrances.

In one instance, shoppers outside a major supermarket were stretched out almost a 100m along a building, spilling on to the road.

There can be no doubts about the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic presents a great threat to us all.

With fake news proliferating around us, credible information matters.

The panic-driven shopping spree on Tuesday would have taken a massive bite off our campaign to contain the virus for starters.

It was an unfortunate scenario that should have been better handled.

In the end, in a press statement released by the permanent secretary for Health and Medical Services Dr James Fong later that night, there was no lockdown announced for Tuesday.

However, he said, based on the worrying rise of clusters and cases, there were discussions on scenario-planning based on the results of continuous testing, and this could include the possibility of a full lockdown of Viti Levu.

If that should happen, he said, priority would be on locking down the virus.

For a lockdown to be decisive, it must be well-planned and prolonged enough to last the entire incubation period.

In the face of this, The Fiji Times strives to create and develop fact-based content for the daily edition, and our online platforms which include our social media portals Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and the main www.fijitimes.com.

It’s difficult to brush past the fact that people need the right information in a crisis.

They need this to make informed decisions daily, to protect themselves and their loved ones, understand what is happening around them, and to be aware of plans by government.

In such times, accurate and trusted content will matter.

In our current context, it will matter in the fight against the virus, and as we fight misinformation and fake news which can be harmful.

There is much more than just the virus creating havoc on our bodies.

Issues range from domestic violence, mental health, financial suffering and the development of other associated health problems.

In saying that, content could create awareness about safety tips, assist people to understand the virus, appreciate the negative impact of the pandemic on fellow Fijians, on businesses and the local economy, and most importantly, hold leaders to account.

While it is very important to understand and be informed about government’s latest decisions and developments, equal emphasis should be placed on the human factor, the suffering of Fijians around the country.

This is a fight that needs the support of every Fijian.

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