By Litia Cava in Suva
The Fiji Civil Society Organisation Alliance for COVID-19 Humanitarian Response has repeated a call for the resignation of the country’s Economy Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.
The alliance claims that he is taking the country into chaos and says it is deeply concerned about lives being unnecessarily lost as a result of the pandemic crisis.
The call comes as Fiji has reported a record 522 new cases of covid-19 and three virus deaths for the 24-hour period ending at 8am today.
Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre co-ordinator and human rights activist Shamima Ali said the government had full authority to conduct a nationwide lockdown to minimise the impact of the virus.
“While it is the people’s responsibility, the authority lies with the government,” she said.
The government had full authority to lockdown and to regulate and also had the resources to call these things.
“And so they must take the bigger bit of the responsibility,” she said.
‘You must step down’
“And so I am asking the Minister for Economy to do the honourable thing and resign.
You must step down because you are taking this country into chaos and you know if we are not careful, a lot more of our people are going to die unnecessarily.”
Questions emailed to Attorney-General and Economy Minister Sayed-Khaiyum yesterday about the comments made by the CSO Alliance remain unanswered.
The alliance also said Fijians were confused with the mixed messages from government.
It questioned the recent announcement by Commerce, Trade, Tourism and Transport Minister Faiyaz Koya to reopen restaurants, food courts, and gyms on Viti Levu.
Ali said it appeared the government was prioritising the need to keep the economy afloat rather than the lives of people.
“We have a very small population,” she said.
‘What are we waiting for?’
“What are we waiting for? Half a million of us to die before we are going to wake up to the reality of what is happening?
“There seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel, nothing is under control.”
Ali said the call for covid-19 patients to safely isolate themselves at home was also an issue of concern.
“We are telling them to self-isolate at home. What are we telling them?
“Do we have a set of guidelines?”
Health Secretary Dr James Fong said the Ministry of Health had a protocol to support this “but we are also working with CSOs and other government ministries to increase the capacity for facility-based isolation”.
A full breakdown of areas of interest has been published online on the Ministry of Health and Medical Service’s covid-19 dashboard and on the Fiji Government Facebook page.
Approximate locations of cases are at this link: http://bit.ly/3vE2ZBb
Litia Cava is a Fiji Times reporter. This article is republished with permission.
This content originally appeared on Asia Pacific Report and was authored by APR editor.