05 August, 2021
The Fiji Corrections Service was not spared by the sweeping and far-reaching second wave of this COVID Pandemic.
On April 20, medical authorities first announced the outbreak of the Covid of the virus in the western division with a funeral being blamed as the primary super spreader event.
By the 5th of May however, with more community transmissions, authorities finally declared that Fiji was ‘at war’ with the virus.
By then, Lautoka Hospital, Fiji’s second-largest hospital, was placed under quarantine with the country’s first community transmitted case and third death due to COVID-19.
From the Western Division, the infected travelled undetected to the Central and Eastern Division and everyone knows what happened next. Schools and businesses came to a halt.
Major sporting events scheduled for April and May were postponed indefinitely later to be cancelled for good.
This versatile, resourceful and deadly virus cared for neither creed, background nor social status infecting large portions of the population and pushing our national health system into chaos and almost total collapse.
The Fiji Corrections Service again assisted by the ICRC closed down its doors again after successfully keeping the pandemic out during the first wave. The strict protocols adopted by the Fiji Corrections Service totally changed the operations of the FCS for the first time ever in its history.
It was not until July that the FCS finally made the headlines as the last Government entity to be compromised by the virus.
This resilient form of of Corona, dubbed the Delta Variant finally made its way to FCS personnel stationed at the Cane Cutting operations in Rakiraki with 9-cases. Two-three weeks later FCS officers in the Central Division were also compromised with numbers reaching 60.
By the Grace of God and the strict adherence to protocols, shutting down all contact with public and strict monitoring of movements between all FCS facilities and homes of FCS personnel including families held the numbers at bay.
The FCS personnel were also rostered for duty on the front lines doing ration deliveries to infected households, as drivers, technical staff, and operational staff with the Ministry of Health support team and also manning call centers. Soon it became apparent that the Disciplined Forces had to help MOH lead Fiji out of the crisis.
FCS staff were rotated to isolate those who were lived in high risk areas, funerals were reduced to four per day to lessen the risk of contact of working inmates with the public, court cases and meetings with lawyers and family members were again held via skype again.
Deputy Commissioner of Corrections Senior Superintendent Apakuki Qura said, “It was paramount to protect our own and those under our Care, this meant that we had to impose strict regulations which all our staff and their families also had to abide by.
“We also moved up the level of urgency in our operations to protect those under our care.”
“It has been a stressful few months but this is what the new normal requires and through all this we are obligate to play our part so that we are all safe,’’ he added.
Senior Superintendent Qura thank all men, women and personal of the FCS and their families for their support and determination to keep the virus at bay.
“Its because of their positive attitude that we have managed to keep the virus at bay so far with no fatalities.”
SSUPT Qura paid tribute to all the hardworking men and women of the FCS and their families for bearing with the increased hours of work and time away from each other.