SUVA, Dec. 22 (Xinhua) -- All inbound passenger flights to Fiji scheduled between Thursday to next Monday has been canceled by the COVID-19 Risk Mitigation Taskforce following a new variant of coronavirus in Britain.
A number of nations have started imposing travel bans as the new strain is more transmissible even though there is no evidence it is more deadly. The Fijian Health Ministry will use this period to conduct an extensive review of its border quarantine processes.
The Health Ministry said on Tuesday that while Fiji's border quarantine protocols have been effective in maintaining a COVID-contained status for 246 days now, if this new strain of the virus is easier to transmit, it could potentially pose an increased risk of inflight transmission to other passengers.
Exemptions may be made by the Permanent Secretary for Health for inbound travellers from countries other than those affected by this potentially contagious strain of the novel Coronavirus.
Several repatriation flights have been approved to land in Fiji up to Dec. 24.
Any traveller on-board these flights coming from Britain, as well as passengers deemed as travelling contacts of Britain-based travellers, will be identified and quarantined separately.
The Ministry of Health has already introduced heightened transmission precautionary measures with regards to personal protective equipment used by all border frontline workers from Dec. 21.
Meanwhile, the latest World Bank analysis on the Pacific Islands has outlined three phases, which should be used in opening up travel.
The analysis has recommended that Pacific Islands take a phased approach from January 2012 to October 2022 to resuming international travel to the region in order to safeguard against COVID-19 outbreaks and ensure a steady economic recovery.
The World Bank said Pacific countries have, so far, managed to largely protect citizens from COVID-19 through international border closures, but the economic impacts of the pandemic in the region have been significant.
The World Bank survey shows that all Pacific economies are estimated to have contracted in 2020, particularly those reliant on tourism.
Fiji, for example, is estimated to have seen a reduction in gross domestic product of nearly 20 percent in 2020. While a modest recovery is expected in 2021, output levels are not projected to reach pre-COVID-19 levels until 2022 or later. Enditem