Letters to the Editor – May 15, 2021

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 Friday, April 30, 2021. Picture: JOVESA NAISUA

History and unwavering support

Most likely, Dr James Fong may go down in our history books as the personality of the year for 2021. As a high-ranking government official, one has to acknowledge his ability to communicate updates and restrictions in simple language which the layman can easily understand or relate to. He is clear in his explanations. There are moments when he has become a little frustrated, but this is an indication of his concerns that should complacency settle in, we may be heading for disaster as some countries such as India are experiencing. There is a huge weight or responsibility on his shoulders and one wonders whether he gets sufficient sleep each day. This is not an easy task to handle when much of the nation’s hope lies on his shoulders. It requires a lot of courage in making bold decisions as circumstances change, sometimes abruptly. Aside from that, one acknowledges the efforts of the Ministry of Health and other government agencies which are working tirelessly behind the scenes. In the line of duty, these officers are also putting their lives at risk. Whatever ones views, let’s give government officers the recognition they deserve and also thank their families for their unwavering support. Floyd Robinson Toorak, Suva

Price increases

The CEO of FCCC has again reiterated that “Our job is to protect Fijian consumer rights and we are carrying out this duty diligently” (FT 14/05). He has also encouraged consumers to come forward and report any sudden price increases on items. After the reduction in duty on more than 600 commodities in the last budget there was a high expectation that it will bring much needed relief to the consumers. But on the contrary the prices have gone up. Why? Because the sudden two-fold escalation in freight charges have pumped up the cost. While I agree that this is out of our control but at least some counter measures can be implemented such as removal of VAT on basic consumer goods to bring the prices down. I thought from the 942 inspections that were carried out by FCCC they would have found that prices have increased on many consumer goods. That should have been the main objective of this exercise. Almost on daily basis I read Fijians complaining about the high cost of basic items. It is the poor and the unemployed who are feeling the greatest pinch. Concerns were also raised about the recent rise in fuel price. But there was no response from FCCC. SELWA NANDAN Lautoka

Critical stage

It will be three full weeks on coming Monday since the start of the confinement zones and restrictions on movements measures were introduced. We also had a 56 hours curfew. What did we achieve through these measures? New cases kept emerging on a regular basis. This increased the workload of hardworking contact tracing teams which is now fully stretched to the limit. As a result, we can safely say that we were not able to stop or reduce the spread of the virus in the past three weeks. While we advocate “virus moves only when people move”, we allowed people to move for whatever noble reasons by keeping selected businesses open. Could we have acted differently three weeks ago? If there was a complete lockdown then, the suffering and hardships already faced by this partial lockdown would have increased only marginally. The people of Fiji are known to be resilient all over the world. The frequent cyclones have taught us how to overcome hardships and suffering. Let us also accept the fact that thousands of frontline warriors have made more sacrifices than us. We were at least with our family and not working but they all were away from their families working day and night in any weather. Let us all salute them. We have reached a critical stage –– we, the people of Fiji have to decide whether we want three weeks of hardships and suffering or a deadly virus in our community. For the good of Fiji, let us make this decision quickly and advise the Government –– bring on the full lockdown, we are ready for our sacrifice. Bharat Morris Rifle Range, Vatuwaqa, Suva

Moving virus

The virus is said to have an incubation period of 14 days. There has not been any unexpected case in Nadi for over two weeks, with the exception of the ones related to the Tavakubu funeral cluster. On that account, ditto for Lami too, where no case has been reported. Dr Fong stated that he believes the virus is circulating in Nadi, Lautoka, Rakiraki, Lami and even the rest of Viti Levu. I believe such information has extreme potential to create social instability, panic and fear. With all due respect to our medical authorities’ abilities, can Dr Fong or someone from the Health Ministry please share what methods were used to posit that the virus is circulating, at least in Nadi? What research was done to opine as such? Are any forecasting models being used for such statements or are they merely guesstimates? Bimal Prasad Newtown Rd, Wailoaloa, Nadi

We must fight this together

Our editor-in-chief delivered a powerful message via his editorial titled ‘We must fight this together’ (FT 14/05). I agree with Wesley that it’s hard not to be enveloped by emotions when there’s death. He made this statement with regards to Dr Fong’s announcement on the passing away of the lady from Makoi. It’s sad that we have recorded our fourth death case from the pandemic, but it’s important to take precautions and necessary advice. I feel for Dr Fong and Aalisha Sahukhan who appear daily during the press conferences, and I thank them for standing tall these dark days. The Suva-Nausori corridor went into complete lockdown from last night until Wednesday morning. On the other hand, the message in the editorial: “There must be optimism. There must be confidence in what we can do to fight this virus. The war against this virus is still winnable. Many thousands of lives can still be saved. Listen often, listen well, and please adhere to every word of the advice we have to give,” must be taken into consideration. The concluding remarks: “In the face of what is arguably one of our greatest challenge as a nation, we must overcome fear together, and be accountable, for ourselves, for our loved ones, and for the nation. We must face this as a nation. United,” were heart-touching. Vinaka vakalevu our editor-in-chief for the robust editorial! The message is crystal clear. Rajnesh Ishwar Lingam Nadawa, Nasinu

Road condition

I wish to make another call to the relevant authorities to hear the plight of road users and vehicle owners on Ovalau. Make use of the low traffic during this lockdown period to fix the roads on Ovalau, especially from Oniviro to Cawaci. The current road condition will cause a major accident before someone at the top will hear the plight from Ovalau which has been falling on deaf ears. Bill Kunavatu Mission Hill, Levuka

Birth certificate

I wonder what will be indicated on the birth certificate as the birth place for those babies who have and will be born in the Fiji Government Medical Ship “MV Veivueti”. Kirti Patel Lautoka


With one more death it should make people understand the importance of government’s instructions. If we want everything to be normal than take necessary action. Jaheed Buksh Korolevu, Sigatoka

A lot to do

It was becoming obvious that Dr James Fong has a lot on his plate. Those higher up should realise that he needs assistance and a well-deserved rest. At least enough break for a haircut. The name has started to sound like Bond, James Bond. Mohammed Imraz Janif Natabua, Lautoka

Contact tracing

Travelling on the roads daily I’ve seen many official vehicles going around. They may be doing tracing. It is up to the people to be responsible to come forward. Thank you to the authorities for your hard work. Navneet Ram Lautoka

COVID-19 jab

May I ask on behalf of the residents of Kava Place that we will be all vaccinated at Kava Place? Allen Lockington Kava Place, Lautoka

Border control

Japan has barred foreign nationals from entering the country if they stayed in India, Nepal and Pakistan within 14 days prior to their return to Japan. Has Fiji taken a position? Dan Urai Lautoka

Curfew rules

One rule applies to all, stay home, stay safe, shop wisely, no roaming, social distance, respect the curfew rules as well as lockdown guidelines, remember that after every storm – there is sunshine. SUNIL CHAND Nadi

Times article

The article titled “Granny saves for school expenses” by Wanshika Kumar (FT 14/05 pg 19) makes interesting but sad reading. I believe that Wanshika should have done some investigative reporting to find out where the parents of the children are and why are the grandparents burdened with the responsibility of raising their children. Vijay P. Madhavan Borron Rd, Suva


I have a suggestion on how to keep people indoors. Both youth and the elderly. Government should direct Fiji TV and FBC TV to play some interesting programs during this COVID lockdown. One suggestion is to play old World Cup soccer matches, EPL, La Liga etc. Some 7s rugby games of the past. Some good movies etc. Ajay Kumar Singh Natabua, Lautoka

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