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The settlement was blocked as Fiji endured a deadly wave of coronavirus

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By David Hotchin and Jill Gralow

SUVA / SYDNEY (Reuters)-In the Kawia settlement, a community of more than 2,000 people near Suva, the capital of Fiji, police warn against entering and exiting hotspot areas for anyone but healthcare professionals. COVID-19 infection.

After repelling the coronavirus last year, Fiji, with a population of about 900,000, has 300 per day as part of a wave of infections associated with the highly contagious Delta strain, the first subspecies detected in India. We are recording as many new cases as possible. ..

According to health officials, the close settlements of the Pacific Islands are rampant, with Kawia representing the fastest growing cluster.

“The name of the sick person is not mentioned. The sick person in the zone is not publicly known, so we do not know who is sick or whether the relatives are sick,” said Sefaira Vere Waqaituinayau. Says. , I have a family in Kawia. “So what we do is bring them into the zone through police and soldiers and organize food and other items for delivery to relatives.”

The total number of infections in Kawia has not been published, but official data show that the settlement recorded 153 cases in the last day. Fiji recorded more than 3,500 infections and 13 deaths during the second wave, which began in April.

This outbreak is associated with a quarantine facility breach.

Containment of settlements, including Kawia, was part of a broader plan to control the virus, with tourism accounting for about 40% of pre-pandemic gross domestic product, schools throughout the normally bustling country. Has been closed and a curfew has been put in place.

Restaurant owner Sikipio Fihaki said he had fired six of his 11 staff and relied solely on business delivery.

“Everyone is sitting in their hands … we are trying to feed the families of those who work for us, like the crew, they are still their own family They still have their own rent to pay, “said Fihaki. “It’s a lonely time. You can’t see your family, you can’t go see your friends.”

Like most Pacific island nations, Fiji closed its borders early in the pandemic. Now, with Papua New Guinea, the number of such countries fighting the rise of infections is small, but it continues to grow.

Katie Greenwood, head of the Pacific Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said COVID-19 would inevitably devastate the region as long as the vaccination program was implemented quickly. It was.

According to official data, about 46% of Fijians receive at least one AstraZeneca or Sinopharm vaccine, while just over 6% receive a second.

“The increase in incidents in Fiji is undoubtedly a call for awakening of Pacific nations, and they can absolutely prevent the first wave from reaching their shores,” Greenwood told Reuters. “The importance of vaccination campaigns is absolutely a top priority.”

(Report by David Hotchin and Jill Gralow, Written by Jonathan Barrett, Edited by Gerry Doyle)

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