4 May 2021

Floods hamper Covid tracing efforts in Fiji

10:40 am on 4 May 2021

Two more cases have emerged in Fiji following a total lockdown of its central division, home to 300,000 people.

A male and female doctor from Lautoka Hospital are the newest cases taking the total to 51 active cases.

Health checks are ongoing in Fiji in an effort to combat Covid-19.

Health checks are ongoing in Fiji in an effort to combat Covid-19. Photo: Facebook / Fiji government

Hailed a success over the weekend, the snap-lockdown of the capital Suva and neighbouring towns Nasinu and Nausori, enabled Fiji's health authorities to speed up its contact tracing efforts.

Health Secretary Dr James Fong told a media conference the ministry was not yet able to determine how the two latest cases contracted the virus.

Both doctors have been entered into isolation and their close household contacts have been quarantined, Fong said.

"We are early into our investigation but at this stage, they do not appear to have any links to existing cases or events of interest such as the Tavakubu funeral two weeks ago.

"Also, while they did work in the hospital, they did not work in the isolation ward where they would have had interaction with Covid-positive patients.

"So while we are very early into this investigation, we must treat these cases as instances of community transmission until it is proven otherwise."

Meanwhile all contacts at the Lautoka Hospital will now undergo government covid contain measures.

The Lautoka Hospital is second only to the capital city's Colonial War Memorial Hospital in terms of size and the area it covers.

"As you can imagine, this is a massive and complex undertaking for the Lautoka Hospital team, and we are providing the support they need.

"This includes sending in medical teams from other medical facilities to replace staff who have been identified as close contacts of these cases and stood down to be isolated."

Health authorities said the capital city lockdown helped them narrow down the work contacts of case 113, a garment factory employee who is now understood to have exposed 771 of her workmates.

While the ministry has tested all the garment workers and some of their secondary contacts, all of whom have returned negative tests, it will continue to investigate other contacts, Fong said.

"That could change at any point throughout the 14-day incubation window for the virus.

"That is why these contacts are all under a home quarantine order that will last two weeks from their last contact with case 113.

"Because we've acted quickly to contain these staff, if any do develop the virus, it will be securely detected while they are in quarantine."

Flooding in Fiji's Central Division on 2 May 2021.

Flooding in Fiji's Central Division on 2 May 2021. Photo: Fiji National Disaster Management Office

Heavy rain, flash flood warnings remain in force

Earlier, the national weather forecasting centre in Nadi said a heavy rain and flash flood warning remained in force for the eastern parts of the main island Viti Levu, from Navua through to Suva and Nausori, Tailevu, Vanua Levu, Taveuni and nearby smaller islands, Lomaiviti and northern Lau group

The Meteorological Service said a flash flood alert also remains in force for low-lying areas, small streams and those close to major rivers for Viti Levu.

Residents in low-lying areas are also being warned of flooding, particularly those in low-lying areas and areas close to Waimanu River, from the Waimanu Pump Station to the main Rewa River.

The said a trough of low pressure with associated cloud and rain remained slow moving over the northern parts of Fiji and away from the country.

Fiji now has 51 active cases, 16 of which are at the border and 31 are local transmissions.

The government continues to investigate the source of transmission for four other active cases.

The country has had 121 Covid-19 cases, 68 recovered and two deaths reported since its first patient in March last year.

As of Monday, May 3:

* A total of 54,988 tests conducted since testing began in 2020.

* 970 average daily tests conducted in the last 7 days

* 5995 weekly average tests over the last 2 weeks

* Record 6821 tests conducted in the last week

* 1736 tests conducted on Sunday alone.