Fiji now has one confirmed case of COVID 19 and 2 more cases are closely being monitored

This was perhaps inevitable as more than 160 countries worldwide have also reported anywhere from one to two to hundreds and thousands

We are well aware of the mass outbreaks in Wuhan Province in China and other regions soon followed from early January 2020

We are also well aware it soon spread to Europe, North America, many Asian countries and finally world over

Pacific Island Countries were perhaps the last beginning with French Polynesia and Guam. International travel is a lot more easier than ever before that explains the ease of carriage of COVID 19 from one continent to next and from one country to another

Here in Fiji we were all closely watching and learning all about this dreadful virus that has killed close to 9000 and over 200,000 people affected worldwide.

Doctors, nurses and all other health care providers in Fiji were constantly appraised of this pandemic. Workshops and seminars were organized to update ourselves for obvious reasons

Private Doctors or GP’s who are all members of the Fiji College of General Practitioners took the initiative of engaging with all the stakeholders to be aware of the consequences if a suspected case knocked on our doors

With the ease of IT or information technology, we were in constant touch with our colleagues all over Fiji and sharing all the relevant data and information

One of our senior members constantly attends task force briefings in Suva that is headed by the Ministry of Health (Health Protection Unit) that is constantly meeting and monitoring the situation

Public Health and Primary Care Health Guidelines was and is still closely looked at and understood in respect of COVID 19

So quite confidently all the GP’s in Fiji are capable to screen and identify any suspected cases and promptly referred to any of the centres set  up in Fiji. As always in such crisis we tend to work closely with other primary health care providers

The news of this first case reported in Fiji has unfortunately led to unnecessary panic and fear. For no apparent reason people started to flock to supermarkets to buy stocks of food and other items such as toilet paper

Social media perhaps had a big role to play and somehow panic unnecessarily spreads like wild fire.

COVID 19 should be viewed similar to Dengue Fever. Whenever there’s an epidemic in Fiji, several thousands gets infected with Dengue most of whom recover within a week or two. No one panics despite the fact that deaths are reported albeit a lower percentage than COVID 19

Regular news bulletins and advertisements on personal health care, sanitation and hygiene should by now be taken as gospel truth. Not only COVID 19 but a host of other illnesses can be largely prevented if people take heed of the advise

Let’s all be far more pragmatic, responsible and realistic for one’s health. The community at large continues to throw rubbish (that includes plastics) wherever they please. This is a time perhaps for people to be more and more responsible and have some pride of their beloved nation. Stop throwing rubbish in somebody else’s backyard. It eventually harms everyone including the perpetrators. You are helping breed rodents, flies, mosquitoes and other insects with such irresponsible behavior and attitude. In this rainy season the rubbish and in particular plastics are more hazardous and dangerous, clogging drains, creeks and water outlets

On the economy, we are well aware of the consequences and should be prepared for the worst. It may take several months for us to bounce back. It’s a real challenge but I’m sure, as we have shown in the past, goodwill and perseverance will prevail to get back us on our feet. It maybe a bit slow process this time around since it has affected our traditional donor contries

Redundancies, shorter working hours, pay cuts etc is forecasted but I would like to urge all the business houses to remain open and continue to employ your staff. This is the time to be far more considerate and with a bit of sacrifice let’s all sail and steer through the rough seas

All the members of my College (GP’s or private doctors) will be willing to offer special discounted rates and in some deserving cases seen FOC. We’ll certainly offer free consultations to the needy and poor members of the community and offer all the help and assistance via phones at any time of the day or night. You can view our website, just google Fiji College of GP’s for all the info and contacts

And a cautionary advice on the use of toilet paper. They are less useful than cleaning oneself with water. We are not short of water, wash and clean your hands afterwards and you’ll feel far more comfortable. There are excellent hoses sold in hardware stores that are easily installed in your toilets or just use a bottle of water instead of toilet paper. It also helps prevent anal lesions like haemorrhoids or piles, fistula etc and once you get into a problem, we always advise against using toilet paper


 Dr Ram Raju 

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