Fiji govt reassures public of border safety following Covid death

Fiji's government says its repatriation operations are working and citizens stranded abroad continue to be brought home, following the death of someone in quarantine from Covid-19.

The Friday death of a 66 year old man came after he had contracted the coronavirus while in India undergoing medical treatment there.

Health Minister Ifereimi Waqainabete said many Fijians returning home were elderly and had serious underlying health conditions which increased the risk of mortality.

He said while the government was aware of the risk that some of citizens may have contracted the potentially deadly virus abroad, the health ministry had prepared accordingly.

"Fiji is committed to repatriating our citizens from around the world because we have the confidence in the capacity to do so without risking our status as a Covid-contained country.

"We don't have to read a headline in a foreign newspaper about this gentleman passing away whilst stranded from his family overseas. Instead, we're able to bring him home."

Waqainabete said the man's isolation in hospital was handled in accordance with the Infection Prevention Control Protocols.

Hundreds of Fiji nationals had been repatriated since May.

Waqainabete said the man's death was an "enormous tragedy" for his family and the ministry's staff.

"The family is now making funeral arrangements to have him buried in Fiji," he said.

Meanwhile the Health Ministry also moved to reassure the public there was no need to panic because of the death.

It said there was no increased risk to the public.

Acting Permanent Secretary for Health, James Fong, said Fiji remained Covid-contained.

"This is a border quarantine case, who was identified early and isolated early.

"There were complications that could not be reversed that he developed. Therefore it does not represent any manner of lockdown or any change to the status of our country as we stand."