From the Editor-in-Chief’s desk: Your May 17 briefing



There was no press conference held by the permanent secretary for Health and Medical Services tonight.

Ministry of Health and Medical Services permanent secretary, Dr. James Fong speaks to the media on the latest cases of COVID-19 during a press conference at the Ministry of Health headquarters conference room at Dinem House in Toorak, Suva on Tuesday, May 4, 2021. Picture: JONA KONATACI

Four new cases

However, Dr James Fong announced four new cases of COVID-19.

He said these new cases all stem from the cluster in Nadali, Nausori, which is believed to have started with a close contact case of the first Makoi cluster.

As thousands of Fijians sit through another day of the lockdown in Suva, Nasinu and Nausori, we are once again buoyed by the fact that many residents are actually adhering to the rules. That’s a positive sign.

There are also some who insist on trying to beat the system.

Here are some stories that made the headlines in The Fiji Times’ edition for Monday, May 17.


Police constable Manueli Laqai assists members of the public at the Suva-Nausori border in Sawani, Naitasiri. Picture: JONA KONATACI

Impact of COVID-19

The big one on the front page is: The surge in people taking out their frustration on social media is a result of the devastating impact of COVID-19 on mental health, says Fiji’s renowned psychotherapist, Selina Kuruleca.

Medical personnel work at the FEMAT field hospital in
Nadovu, Lautoka. Picture: REINAL CHAND

Frontline workers 

There is another story on Page 1 about: People who are at the forefront in the fight against COVID-19 could reach a breaking point because of the stress and pressure associated with their work environment.

There’s more to read on Pages 2, 3, 4 and 5.

Again, let’s pause for a moment here and take stock of what we know so far.

Every night for the past few weeks, we have been hearing permanent secretary for Health and Medical Services Dr James Fong pleading with us to stay home.

If you do not have a reason to go out, than just stay home, he says.

If you do have a valid reason to go out, then please put on a mask.

However, the best course of action, if we are to contain the virus, or suppress it, is for us to stay home.

Dr Fong and Dr Aalisha Sahukhan were emotional towards the end of last week when they announced our latest death due to COVID-19.

You could sense it in their voices, and see it in their body language.

It should have inched out emotional responses from the masses. Unfortunately many would have missed this because it was one of those days when the media weren’t invited to a briefing.

It is clear that we have passionate people at the helm of our heath campaign.

Yet in the face of that commitment sits a rather troubling scenario.

Out of 86 cases yesterday, 54 were people who breached health restrictions, says Acting Commissioner of Police Rusiate Tudravu. He said another 32 cases were related to curfew breaches. In the Western Division, there were 25 cases, where 11 people breached the curfew orders and 14 did not comply with health restrictions.

Of the 40 cases in the Southern Division, 15 people breached curfew orders and 25 cases were recorded for breaching health restrictions.

The Eastern Division recorded 13 cases including six cases for curfew breach and seven people were found not complying with health restrictions.

Eight cases were recorded in the Northern Division.

Going back to Friday, two people were arrested for not wearing masks while travelling in a public vehicle in Levuka. There were also two alcohol-related cases recorded in Levuka.

ACP Tudravu said 53 people were arrested over a 24-hour period on Saturday for breaching curfew hours and health restrictions.

People were caught loitering, breaching curfew rules, and there was a driver who had no official curfew pass taking passengers.

Now if that wasn’t enough, nine people were caught drinking kava and a host of others were arrested drinking alcohol.

Let’s not kid ourselves that we are immune from this virus.

More developed nations are struggling to cope with the pandemic.

Their hospitals are stretched to the limit. Their doctors are overworked, tired and emotionally challenged daily. Many doctors are even deciding who gets to live and who will die in many hospitals.

This is serious business.

Fiji needs the support of every Fijian to fight this virus. We have curfews and a lockdown for a reason.

Let’s encourage each other. Let’s motivate each other to follow physical distancing rules. Let’s encourage each other to stay safely within our own bubbles. Let’s do the right thing, for ourselves, our loved ones, and for our nation.

Acknowledgement is due to the thousands who are adhering to the rules.



Check out the letters on Pages 8 and 9.



No regrets

In this ever popular section of the newspaper, read about: Ram Dayal, 72, has never regretted the decision he made about six decades ago to toil the land and make a living off it. This same land on Navula outside Natabua, Lautoka has provided for three generations who have earned themselves good education and have left for greener pastures abroad.



Greener pastures

This is another popular section which comes out every Monday. Read about: Banwari Lal Sadhu travelled from India more than 50 years ago to seek greener pastures on a tiny dot in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. He had heard of the opportunities available in Fiji as throngs of Indians braved the perilous 11,500km journey to work the sugarcane plantations under the Colonial Government’s indentured labourer system.



Local based Bati

The big one on the back page is about: The Fiji Bati team to the 2021 Rugby League World Cup in England later this year is expected to include some local based players.


There’s a lot to read inside. You’ll have to get a copy though to know what we are talking about. Happy reading!


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