8 Jun 2021

Fiji's main hospital cordoned off as Covid-19 cases mount rapidly

12:14 pm on 8 June 2021

Fiji's main hospital has been effectively cordoned off, as the country battles a rapidly growing outbreak of Covid-19, with 147 cases reported in the last two days alone.

The country's main response body, the Incident Management Team, is now also a fast growing cluster - with 10 cases reported - forcing the permanent secretary of health, James Fong, as well as the head of health protection Aalisha Sahu Khan and chief medical advisor Jemesa Tudravu into isolation.

This picture taken on April 24, 2021 shows residents wearing face masks waiting to cross the main road in the Fijian capital Suva ahead of an expected lockdown in the capital due to a Covid-19 spike. (Photo by Leon LORD / AFP)

Photo: AFP

On Monday night, health authorities logged another 64 cases and highlighted a second death at Suva's Colonial War Memorial Hospital. However, the government said underlying conditions mean these deaths would not be added to the country's Covid-19 death toll.

There are now 515 active cases in Fiji, according to data released on Monday night.

Six hundred and eighty-one cases have been recorded since the latest outbreak began in April, creating by far the country's largest outbreak. For the entire year to March, there had been only 70.

"It is clear that the recent escalation in daily case numbers from the Central Division signals the increasing severity of this outbreak," Fong said in a written statement.

"The emergence of clusters outside of the Lami-Nausori containment zone in Naitasiri is also a cause for concern. And the cases within the CWM Hospital, as well as within the Covid-19 Incident Management Team, are serious developments that have had an impact on our ability to respond," he added.

"We can expect more cases."

Meanwhile the government, with support from Australia, has set up a field hospital in Suva, with the city's main hospital now effectively quarantined.

Based at the Vodafone Arena at Laucala Bay, the facility has become the city of 300,000's de facto emergency department and triage centre.

Suva, Viti Levu - Fiji.

Suva, Fiji. Photo: 123rf

Maternity patients have been directed to nearby health centres and a local NGO that provides reproductive health services. Surgical patients will be seen at the country's main eye hospital and a government ship moored in Suva Harbour.

"Members of the public requiring outpatient care for minor illnesses are encouraged to access health services at their nearest health centre. Those experiencing Covid-19-like symptoms of (sore throat, fever, loss of taste/smell, shortness of breath, aches and pains, fatigue/tiredness) are asked to visit the nearest screening clinic or Call 158," the government said.

Monday's 64 new cases included 10 from the Covid-19 management team, 10 from the Colonial War Memorial Hospital, 11 from Nawaka in Nadi, 23 from the country's Navy, nine from Navosai, and one from Waila in Nausori.

Six of the 83 cases declared on Sunday were from a Shop and Save supermarket, which had previously not been disclosed by the government.

With the Covid situation rapidly spiralling out of control in Fiji, Fong said there were still too many people violating basic public health measures, including holding mass gatherings.

Security officers man a checkpoint at a junction in the Fijian capital Suva on April 27, 2021, after the Fijian capital entered a 14-day lockdown on April 26 following a Covid-19 spike following a "superspreader" funeral event

Security officers man a checkpoint at a junction in the Fijian capital Suva on April 27, 2021, after the Fijian capital entered a 14-day lockdown on April 26 following a Covid-19 spike following a "superspreader" funeral event Photo: AFP or licensors

"We are concerned about recurring incidents of individuals violating established protocols designed to prevent the spread of the virus. These breaches are potentially dangerous and endanger the health and lives of all Fijians.

"Our non-containment zones are still at risk of being breached. Fijians living in non-containment must also act as if the virus is already in their communities by avoiding social gathering and observing the Covid safe protocols and guidelines we have issued. That is the way we will get back to normal quickly."