Fiji in July: Covid-19 update
Three months ago I reported Fiji had 16 confirmed Covid-19 cases, all traced to two sources. There had been no deaths. Today, all of these sufferers have fully recovered and an additional eight people have tested positive. These eight were all among 107 Fiji citizens who returned from India on the same repatriation flight a week ago and are now in quarantine. None is seriously ill.
On the face of it, the people of Fiji have escaped. The population is protected by natural isolation and strict government measures including a curfew and a lock-down of the capital Suva. The latter is enforced by police roadblocks.
Lives and livelihoods
But while no Fijians have lost their lives to the virus, the majority have lost their livelihoods.
Tourism accounts for 40 per cent of Fiji's national income and employs more people than any other industry. In a country with minimal government welfare payments, most tourism workers contribute to the support of elderly parents and the education of young relatives in addition to providing for themselves and their own children. With 280 resorts and hotels now closed completely, over 100,000 Fijians have lost their jobs and simply have no money to pay for the goods and services they usually buy.
Fortunately, almost everyone has links to individual or communal land. Back in April, I predicted that Fijians would prove resourceful in providing for their families by growing food, fishing and sharing. However, I did not foresee a digital solution.
Barter for a Better Fiji
On 21st April, business consultant Marlene Dutta set up the Barter for Better Fiji Facebook page to enable traditional bartering to operate more efficiently. Today, there are 186,000 members - pretty astonishing in a population of 880,000. The post below is typical.
I can only repeat my conclusion from April: when Covid-19 no longer controls our world, I urge you to help this resilient people bounce back by escaping to Fiji for your next holiday.
I look forward to hearing from you!