The Fiji government has announced that it will make Covid-19 vaccines a mandatory work condition for public servants and private sector personnel, and some people may lose their jobs if they do not comply.
Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said in a televised address Thursday night that private sector employers and employees should receive at least one dose of vaccine by August 1.
“It doesn’t matter if you are the CEO of a company, a sole trader or a salaried employee, you must be vaccinated to continue working or that company will run the risk of closing. No coups, no work, that is what science tells us is safer and that is now the government’s policy and it is applied through the law, ”he said.
Officials will be instructed to absent themselves if they do not receive a first hit by August 15, and are expected to be fully vaccinated by November 1 or face dismissal.
The increased vaccination campaign also includes one-time fines ranging from $ 20 to $ 4,000 for violating any of the more than 20 violations outlined in public health regulations.
Bainimarama said: “The good news is that the coronavirus vaccines are working and we are rolling them out quickly. The AstraZeneca vaccine that we are administering in Fiji is working very well. It has been shown to offer 92% protection against hospitalization for the Delta variant of Covid-19 present in the country.
“With other potentially more deadly variants spreading across the globe, including the highly contagious Lambda variant next door in Australia, we cannot afford to waste time getting vaccinated and reclaiming the lives and livelihoods we know and love. These simple measures slow the spread and prevent more cases of serious illness and death. “
Several countries have made vaccination against Covid mandatory, although generally less widely. The UK government plans to make vaccinations mandatory for homeworkers in England later this year.
Kameli Batiweti, executive director of the Fiji Trade and Employers Federation, said the pandemic had affected the tourism and hospitality industry.
“The pandemic stands in the way of reopening the borders. The whole world has suffered the consequences and Fiji is not saved, ”he said. “Unemployment has increased because our largest industry, tourism, has almost closed with no international tourists arriving. It seems that we are enslaved by this pandemic. The solution to getting out from under the rock is to encourage everyone to get vaccinated. “
The Fiji Trade Union Congress previously encouraged all workers to get vaccinated, but argued that the law should protect anyone exercising their right not to be beaten.
Fiji recorded 860 new Covid cases and three related deaths in the 24 hours to 8 a.m. local time on Friday. It has registered a total of 51 deaths from Covid, 49 of them during the outbreak that began in April this year. Of the 49, 41 were not vaccinated and eight had received a dose of vaccine.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism