29 Apr 2021

Surge in covid cases puts Fiji's main island under threat

11:44 am on 29 April 2021

Fiji's main island of Viti Levu is under threat following a surge in Covid-19 cases, a senior health official has warned.

The Permanent Secretary for Health James Fong said the announcement of more cases of Covid-19 had put Viti Levu under distress.

On Wednesday, Dr Fong confirmed two new cases of the virus.

This has taken the total number of locally-transmitted patients to 26.


.. Photo: Facebook

Dr Fong said the ministry would continue to treat the entire Viti Levu as an infected zone until there were no more Covid-19 cases detected by the screening clinics held across the island.

"These two clusters indicate to us that the virus has spread to localities in several different areas of Viti Levu. These two weeks will define the next two months for Fiji, and we all need to behave like we have Covid-19, even if there are no known cases in our community or we are showing no symptoms of the virus."

Dr Fong warned the latest cases of the B1617 variant of Covid-19 posed a threat to Viti Levu's population of 600,000.

He urged the public to adhere to the restrictions and health advisories issued by the ministry, and that people need to understand that if they keep moving around and do not stay at home, they were shifting the goal posts.

Dr Fong said if Fijians continue to ignore official advice, the two weeks' lockdown could be extended, by up to three months.

As of Wednesday, the ministry said 685 laboratory tests and 20,201 in-person health screenings had been carried out.

Dr Fong said one of the two latest cases - a 53-year-old caretaker of the Ra Provincial Office - was a concern because this patient would require additional investigation into his contacts to determine if he was linked to other active cases.

Fiji health officials Dr Aalisha SahuKhan, left, and Dr James Fong.

Fiji health officials Dr Aalisha SahuKhan, left, and Dr James Fong. Photo: Facebook/Fiji govt

He said the man showed symptoms of Covid-19 - in his case, those were body aches - when he visited the Nanukuloa Health Centre on April 24.

"He has been moved securely to the isolation ward at Lautoka Hospital, as per standard operating procedure," Dr Fong said.

He added the man's family members had been swabbed and quarantined at the Ra Special School with police officers providing security at the facility.

Villages become containment zones

The nearby villages of Naiserelagi, Nanukuloa and Dokonavatu are now containment zones.

The second of Wednesday's new cases is a 25-year-old man who had stayed at the house of the woman from Makoi.

"We established that he was a close contact through our contact tracing," Dr Fong said.

"We tested him because of that close contact despite the fact that he had no symptoms. He stayed in Makoi from April 12-19 and he went to Vunimono in Nausori where he was retrieved and swabbed."

Dr Fong said four teams were facilitating contact tracing based on the young man's travel history.

"He has been securely transferred to an isolation unit in Colo-i-Suva. His primary contacts are also quarantined at Colo-i-Suva."

Fiji now has had 111 Covid-19 cases, 44 active with 65 recovered and two deaths reported since the country's first case was detected on March 19 last year.

Meanwhile, New Zealand and the United Nations Development Programme have sent personal protective equipment to Fiji police.

The UNDP says police risk infection in their frontline support of the government's response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The PPE items, which include 10,000 KN-95 masks, 30,000 gloves, and 300 bottles of hand sanitizers, are being delivered to police officers on duty in towns and communities.