Suva, July 9: Fiji has announced plans to make COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for all government and private employees in the country. Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, in his address to citizens late Thursday, announced deadlines for public and private workers to take two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, with a blunt message: "no jabs, no job". Coronavirus Outbreak in Fiji Batters Economy, Tests Health System.

All government employees in Fiji have been asked to go on leave and take their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by August 15 if they are unvaccinated. Employees, who would fail to get their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by November 1, will be dismissed from service. Similarly, the deadline to take first shot of the COVID-19 vaccine is August 1 for private sector employees. India, Fiji Sign Pact on Cooperation in Agriculture, Allied Sectors.

Those who won't comply may face hefty fines and their employers could be forced to shut down their businesses. "No jabs, no job - that is what the science tells us is safest and that is now the policy of the government and enforced through law," PM Bainimarama said. He also tried to allay fears regarding the vaccination.

"I have not been magnetised or micro-chipped by the vaccine, I have not received the mark of the beast or any other creature -- the vaccine does not do that to anyone," the Fijian Prime Minister said. He added he is not in favour of nationwide lockdown because it will not kill off coronavirus, but eliminate jobs.

Fiji is now recording 700-plus new cases almost daily with the highly contagious Delta variant, first detected in India, rapidly spreading. The South Pacific nation of 9,30,000 has rolled out vaccines developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca. Nearly, 3,40,000 adults have received their first shot so far.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Jul 09, 2021 10:28 AM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website