We now on red alert

Sashi Kiran (FREIND) Ajay Bhai Amrit and Shamima Ali (FIJI Women’s Crisis Centre) are among NGOs who are the backbone of the country through their assistance to grassroots people. Picture: SUPPLIED

BULA readers! It is with great sadness that I write this week’s article as we fall further into the clutches of the COVID-19 pandemic.

I was reading with despair as the very much respected John Hopkins University, who are a gold standard institution in research and statistics, have announced that Fiji now leads the globe in the number of confirmed cases increasing the most rapidly in the world.

I am saddened with the Government saying that they are controlling the pandemic and the Minister of Health, the highest-ranking health official in the country stating, “the outbreak is under control”. With respect minister, it clearly does not seem under control.

Unfortunately, all the major hospitals and health centres are having partial closures, the active infection rates have doubled and tripled in numbers and god forbid if they reach higher figures.

I am praying Government can expedite equipment and personnel in place such as ventilators, effective medicines, emergency medical professionals and state-of-the-art medical facilities ready to go, for the rising rates of infections, which are occurring now.

Moving on, last week I noticed two senior lawyers were mentioned in Parliament in an attempt to discredit them.

My personal opinion is that the Government should reach out to them as these two individuals are quickly becoming national heroes for their informative and well-presented views on what’s actually happening in society.

With respect to our government ministers, some of whom I know very well, but they are just not grasping the reality and the suffering of our people on the ground today.

I have been lobbying for a 21-day hard total lockdown as soon as the virus hit our shores in April, and wrote a detailed article in the The Fiji Times calling for a lockdown in the month of May, and once again with a full page blue print plan of action for the 21-day lockdown in June, which unfortunately has not been considered.

To give you more positive feedback for a hard lockdown, here is an extract from the world leading University of Melbourne and Australia National University.

Researchers at the University of Melbourne and the ANU have concluded ;

“A go early, go hard strategy to suppress COVID, will result in lower costs to both the economy and public health. In a paper published in the scientific journal PLoS ONE, they say that by delaying a suppression strategy, it will have no economic benefits and only seesmore people die.”

I am a patriotic and concerned citizen, who has an obligation to report in the mass media what the nation is feeling, and sadly it is one of despair and dissolution, as I have said before I am not anti–government or pro-government actually I am pro-Fiji and want the best for all our citizens.

More and more private and public health workers have been in touch with me and concluded that we need a plan going forward and that they feel conflicted, disappointed and frustrated.

Once again I know it’s a very uncertain time, but I urge Government to expedite a plan, as the poor get poorer and hundreds of thousands of people have lost there jobs, unemployment has gone through the roof, tourism has collapsed, the sugar industry is on its knees, hospitals are crumbling, infrastructure such as roads and basic services are broken, all this and government debt levels are the highest ever in history as we continue to borrow more. Maybe I should stop here as there are too many urgent problems to list.

Am I angry “no”, am I disappointed “yes”. I am speaking on behalf of many citizens today as ministers continue to earn $4000 and $5000 a week, with free vehicles, free drivers, free petrol, free bodyguards and the list goes on.

The government ministers lives are great, but please think of the people who struggle each and everyday and are offered only $50 dollars to buy food.

Please think of the people who have got so desperate that they needed to protest just to get food. Please think of the vulnerable in our society who are forgotten. Please think of the silent majority who are going through domestic violence, mental health problems and so many other issues.

Please, I respectfully urge you to stop criticising the hard-working NGOs who are the back bone of this country and are helping citizens day in and day out with food, clothing, medicines, counseling and so many other services.

They have seen so many governments come and go, but still they continue to do the hard work of serving the people where the government is failing.

Finally, I respectfully urge you to lead the nation with love not hate, with compassion not selfishness, and with direction not indecision. Yes, we will get through this, but I feel with jobs, health and livelihoods all at stake, it is going to be a situation of too little too late.

  •  AJAY BHAI AMRIT is a freelance writer. The views expressed in this article are his and does not necessarily reflect the views of this newspaper

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