Bula Vinaka.
To put Fiji ahead of the spread of this virus, we have spent the past 24 hours listening carefully to everything that our testing and contact tracing is telling us. As the Hon PM announced yesterday, we will not hesitate to escalate our response in accordance with the risk we face. What we’ve learned since yesterday has changed our containment strategy in some important ways. 
The soldier who tested positive over the weekend remains securely in a border quarantine facility. He never left –– he was identified as a positive case in quarantine and he never entered public spaces. So our contact tracing has been limited to his 69 primary contacts within the facility, as well as their 267 secondary contacts. These contacts are all in quarantine. So far, none of the 69 primary contacts have tested positive for COVID-19, except for the hotel staff who worked as a maid and who contracted the virus while working in the quarantine facility. Only one of the 267 secondary contacts has tested positive so far, the daughter of the hotel staff who, together with the rest of the family, has been in quarantine since Sunday morning, the 18th of April. 
Due to her extensive exposure with the public, this hotel staff, and now her daughter, have been the central focus of our contact tracing. Together, these two patients represent the highest-risk cases Fiji has ever contended with. 
Our contact tracing has told us the following about the mother, daughter, and the rest of their family’s travel history:
Around 9pm on Friday the 16th of April, the mother, and 11 other family members travelled from Nadi to the funeral in Tavakubu using a hired minibus. We have identified this minibus, and the driver is in quarantine. Outside of the family, there were no other passengers.
The mother and eight of her family members returned to Nadi later at 12:30am that same evening. Again this was a hired minibus. It drove from Tavakubu to Nadi at 10pm on Friday the 16th of April. There were no other outside passengers, but we are trying to contact the driver of this minibus. 
The next day, Saturday, she and seven other family members travelled to Tavakubu at 9am, again by hired minibus without any other passengers. We are trying to contact the driver of this minibus. 
After the funeral on Saturday, she and one other family member traveled in a grey coloured taxi from Tavakubu to the Lautoka minibus stand, and then took a public minibus from Lautoka to Nadi at around 5pm. We have not found this taxi or minibus. We need to find the driver of the grey taxi, and the other passengers and driver of the minibus. 
The other members of her family who have all travelled with her to Lautoka all returned to Nadi by other means. All those family members based in the West have been entered into quarantine and have all tested negative for the virus. 
As we press ahead with contact tracing –– we are also urging anyone with details about the taxi and minibus to come forward with information. If you travelled by minibus between the Lautoka minibus stand to Nadi after 5pm on  Saturday 17th April to please call 158. If you are the driver of the  grey taxi, or have information about the driver, please call 158 immediately. 
Now that we know both the mother and daughter are COVID-positive, the risk that there was of transmission of the virus to the mother’s fellow passengers during her travel from the Tavakubu funeral to Nadi on Saturday is high. The funeral, as well, is now being treated as a potential superspreader event. 
Throughout this period, the woman and her daughter also travelled with three family members who were visiting from Naicabecabe Village in Moturiki. These individuals also stayed with the mother and daughter at their home in Nadi. We have identified these three individuals, they are securely under home quarantine in Naicabecabe. They have been swabbed, we are awaiting the test results. Meanwhile, the entire village of Naicabecabe is now considered a containment area. I’ve sent my teams to the village and all families are being screened.
We know there were at least 500 people present at the funeral. The mother was there for a few hours, which is more than long enough to transmit the virus to others. We have directed all those present at the funeral to stay at home for the next two weeks while they await screening from the Ministry of Health and Medical Services. If you were at the funeral in Tavakubu at Peceliema Church on Friday 16th April or Saturday 17th April and have not been contacted, please call 158. Please, do it right now. And stay home until the Ministry of Health and Medical services can check on you. 
We have yet to confirm it via tests, but we are certain there are more cases out there. So, we are mobilising a massive house-to-house screening effort in the Nadi and Lautoka Containment Area to determine people’s travel history, so we know where they have been, and screen for COVID-like symptoms, so we know if they are sick. We will be testing immediately and often. We have the capacity to run 600 COVID tests per day. That is how many tests we plan to run every day for the next two weeks, at least.
For this screening effort to be done well, we need to ensure that people in the Nadi and Lautoka Containment Area are at home as much as possible. That is why–– from tomorrow–– we are asking that movement within the Nadi and Lautoka Containment Area be restricted for emergencies, employment, and essential purposes only. 
If you do not have an essential reason to travel, don’t. We need everyone at home as often as possible. Basically, if you are living within the containment area, you should treat everyone as COVID positive until it is proven otherwise. If you need to go outside, wear a mask. Keep your distance from others, and head straight home once you’ve finished your work, shopping, or accessing essential services. 
As for those businesses which are open, I cannot stress enough how important it is that you enforce physical distancing within your businesses and require that customers have the careFIJI app turned on while they are on your premises. We’ve been informed that some supermarkets are not enforcing these measures. Please remember, as announced by the Hon PM, shops will be shut down if these reports are found to be true. 
careFIJI is one of the most efficient contact tracing tools we have. If you have careFIJI, and you come into contact with someone who has the virus, we can alert you quickly to keep you and your family safe. The more Fijians have this app downloaded, the more quickly we can flush out the virus and return life to normal. 
I also want to be clear with everyone – the problem here is the virus, not any one person. We need to shake the harmful stigma around people who are living with COVID-19. This virus is highly transmissible –– anyone can catch it, and all of us need to be honest with our health officials about how we are feeling and where we have been. If you feel you have symptoms, call 158. If you know someone experiencing  symptoms, call 158. If you suspect you have had contact with either of our two confirmed patients, call 158. Our screening clinics are open and available throughout the country as part of a national network of community surveillance to identify COVID-like symptoms among the Fijian public and get them tested. 
As for the rest of Fiji, the restrictions announced yesterday are unchanged. Non-work gatherings should not be happening of any size, anywhere in Fiji. I know this is a bitter pill to swallow for those who had planned religious celebrations –– but this is a life or death matter. Those services, no matter how small, could put lives at risk. Our discipline and sacrifice today will keep COVID-stricken patients out of ICUs and prevent loss of life. All faiths teach us the value of every life. So, for now, please keep your celebrations within your homes and restricted to members of your households. Find comfort in family, and have faith that our strict adherence to these health measures will restore our precious freedom to gather in numbers for religious services once Fiji is safe again.
When it comes to COVID, good information can be the difference between outbreak and containment. As a Ministry, we try very hard to release accurate information. We wait until we have all the facts and data, and then we state that information very carefully. That is because we know that the people must have faith in the information we give because they will make important decisions based on that information. After yesterday’s announcement, I have been extremely disappointed by media coverage that has been misleading. In particular, The Fiji Times published a troubling headline on their Facebook page saying “Vaccines do not protect you from getting the virus”.
The headline was wrong. It is contradicted by science, and many people will be swayed by it without ever reading the article. All of us who provide information to the public must take extreme care in what you say and how you say it to avoid giving information that is misleading, unproven, premature or, at worst, false. 
To that end,  we actually held a workshop to raise awareness on misinformation, disinformation, and malinformation a few weeks ago with Civil Society Organisations and members of the media to talk about the dangers of bad information. The Fiji Times was invited. Unfortunately, they sent no one. And now, their reckless words may have deadly consequences. 
So let me make something clear, and this is based on science: Vaccines absolutely do protect you from getting the virus, particularly after both doses of the vaccine are administered. So far, we have only administered the first of two doses in Fiji, that means we’ve only offered partial protection. No one in Fiji is fully vaccinated yet. Not me, not any of our frontliners, not anyone. The soldier and the hotel staff both received one dose of the vaccine, but neither were fully immunised. No vaccine stops transmission 100% of the time. But when a person is fully immunised, the likelihood of contracting the virus plummets, as does the severity of the symptoms. That is being proven every day around the world. As countries vaccinate more people, infections and deaths decline. That is happening in Israel, in the US, in the UK, in Australia and elsewhere. Vaccines save lives, and they will save the lives of Fijians.  
I share the Prime Minister’s concerns that our experience in containing the virus may have made us complacent, life-risking habits have taken hold in too many ways over the past several months. People are still sharing takis, bilos, and cigarettes, and forgoing handwashing and strict physical distancing. We need to recommit ourselves to the practices that have protected us until we reach herd immunity through mass vaccination.
We have defeated this virus before. By keeping our discipline, we will keep ourselves healthy, and we will keep Fiji safe. 
Vinaka vakalevu. Thank you.