Safeguards for students in Fiji amid outbreak

Samoa’s High Commission in Fiji has assured parents and families of students in the country they are doing their utmost to protect their safety and wellbeing as the country faces a mounting COVID-19 crisis.

The latest data available from Fijian health authorities show that the country has 52 active cases of the virus currently in isolation. 

The Government announced last week it was putting parts of the country, including the nation’s capital, Suva.

The High Commission on Saturday released an update on the safety of Samoan students studying at the University of the South Pacific (U.S.P.) and Fiji’s National University (F.J.U.) following recent community outbreaks. 

“The Samoa High Commission is monitoring closely the overall situation in Fiji to try and minimize any negative impact of the lockdown on our students’ studies and their overall wellbeing,” the update read. 

“There is regular contact with the students via the email and messenger platforms to draw to their attention pertinent information and developments that they must be made aware of.”

Before this recent surge, the nation has recorded 165 cases, of which 109 have recovered and four have died. 

The High Commission said that a total of 84 Samoan students are registered students at the two main universities.

“After 364 days since the last COVID-19 case was recorded in the community on 18 April 2020, Fiji confirmed its first community case this year as a result of a breach in protocol at a Nadi quarantine facility,” the update said.

The High Commission noted that the recent surge in cases prompted the closure of all schools and tertiary institutions in the country from 21 April. 

In its bid to contain the country’s current outbreak on the main island of Viti Levu, Fiji’s Government has established a total of six major lockdown containment areas/

“The High Commission [...] works closely with the U.S.P. and F.N.U. management so that any decisions taken that have a bearing on our students’ studies and time in Fiji are shared with the students promptly,” the update said.

The High Commission said that both universities have recently approved a number of measures to allow for the continuation of quality learning and teaching for all students.

These include restrictions currently in force on the grounds of the university’s campuses such as wearing masks, social distancing, a “no-gathering” policy and a mandatory requirement for students to download the COVID-19 Fiji Care app.

“The U.S.P. and F.N.U. have placed the welfare and safety of regional students as a top priority during this lockdown period,” the High Commission said. 

“As of now, there are no reports of any of our students [have] been found or suspected to have the COVID-19 virus in this latest outbreak.

“U.S.P. was on extended mid-semester break of three weeks and only resumed classes remotely (online) today, Monday, 10 May 2021.”

The University has implemented other support programmes to be delivered online such as access to library materials, personal counselling as well as career and entrepreneurship sessions. 

The University is undergoing contingency plans in case the lockdown continues to be and affects students’ learning for the rest of the semester. 

All U.S.P. Fiji campuses will remain closed during the lockdown except for essential staff and on-campus students. 

Off-campus regional students are allowed to enter the campuses only if they need to visit the U.S.P. Medical Centre during weekdays. 

Following the 22 April 2021 announcement of the suspension of face-to-face teaching and instructions F.N.U. announced it would begin delivering courses and assessments online from 26 April 2021.

All Post Graduate Regional students at the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences were also directed not to attend clinical training and practical sessions at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital. 

The High Commission told parents and families of Samoan students in Fiji to be assured that their office is working collaboratively with the country’s Government and the management of both the U.S.P. and F.N.U. to ensure students’ safety:

“But even with the best of effort and genuine intentions and our part, we can only do so much given the constraints imposed by the COVID-19 protocols currently in place which we must fully respect, support and adhere to.”  


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