View from the West

During times of national crisis, people look to their government for political leadership, meaningful financial and welfare assistance, and general reassurance.

The COVID-19 pandemic might not be a war in the true sense of the word, but for Fijians this year, it has become a national crisis.

There are daily spikes in the number of people contracting the virus and the number of related deaths continue to record a steady rise.

In April last year (2020), when Fiji appeared to have “contained” the spread of COVID-19, there were 17 positive cases with no deaths.

This led to Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama making a bold, some might say boastful, statement: “Fiji is now well on our way to eliminating COVID-19 entirely, and we’re one of the few nations on Earth who can make that claim. Our progress has come not from fortune, but through foresight; every step taken was swift, every decision made was decisive, and every success we’ve recorded has been well-earned

“It would be easy to say this war has been completely won and roll-back every health protection directive in one fell-swoop. But we can never settle for “easy” with a virus this devastating and unpredictable. We have no choice but to continue treating this invisible enemy with deadly seriousness,” he went on to say.

Just a year after that statement, towards the end of April 2021, Fiji had recorded 77 COVID-positive cases in total, with 65 recoveries and 2 deaths since the first case was reported in March 2020.

By the end of May 2021, however, the figures began a disturbing upwards trend with Fiji recording 438 positive cases in total. There had been 167 recoveries and 4 deaths.

That month, when many Fijians were sound asleep Prime Minister Bainimarama made a late- night statement announcing an easing of COVID-related restrictions as a means of reviving the local economy.

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