Covid-19 surge forces Fiji border closure

Fiji will not consider any international arrivals until there are no cases of Covid-19 in the community, the government said.

The country has been battling a low-level outbreak on Viti Levu, with two more community cases confirmed on Monday taking the total to over 30.

There are also more than 15 cases in managed isolation while four are being investigated over their source of transmission.

Arrivals from all countries had been banned since 22 April, and Health secretary Dr James Fong said he could not see this ending soon.

But Dr Fong told a media conference the only exceptions were Fijians travelling for medical procedures and those with special approval granted by the Health Ministry.

Fiji had suspended all international passenger flights from all countries on 22 April, he said.

"We are not labelling countries as high-risk or low-risk - we simply are not taking passengers from any countries at all.

"Our quarantine capacity has been directed entirely dedicated towards contacts of local cases in Fiji."

Fong said before the ministry would 'even' consider reopening international passenger travel to Fiji, 'we need a much firmer grasp on this outbreak'.

Given the outbreak's index case was at the border, Fong said the ministry would be revamping its managed isolation quarantine (MIQ) facilities with additional CCTV cameras.

He said the ministry would also strengthen its Covid-19 protocols to "protect against human error to an even more stringent degree than before".

Meanwhile, the government is not considering relaxing restriction measures for any of the six containment zones throughout the main island Viti Levu just yet until it was clear of the risks there.

There are six containment areas including Suva and Lautoka cities, and Nausori, Lami, Rakiraki and Nadi towns.

Fong said the borders of each zone were highly restricted and movement within these areas were limited.

"We are not considering rolling back the measures for any of these zones until we have a clearer idea of the risk posed to the public," he Fong said.

"That will require more tests, more screening and quite simply more time.

Fong said this was because the virus may be laying in wait within any of those containment areas, and "time is the only strategy that will expose those cases".

"If we give in to the urge to relax restrictions too early, we may lose our chance to contain the virus for good."

That had happened elsewhere, he said, and the ministry was doing all it could for this not to happen in Fiji.