23 Aug 2021

More Covid-19 infections on remote Fiji island

1:34 pm on 23 August 2021

Eighty-five villagers on Fiji's remote Kadavu Island have tested positive to Covid-19, as health authorities scramble to contain the spread of the virus beyond the main island of Viti Levu.

No caption

Photo: RNZ Pacific/Christine Rovoi

The Rakiraki villagers in Yale were among 303 new cases reported for the 24 hours to 8am on Sunday.

The Government also confirmed five people had died, bringing the death toll to 438 - 436 of them from the outbreak that began in April this year.

The Ministry of Health has not ruled out the possibility of community transmission on Kadavu.

Given the clinical details of the cases at Rakiraki Village, the Health Secretary Dr James Fong said they are believed linked to those who allegedly made unauthorised travel between Kadavu and Suva - and this was a concern.

"To help with our public health containment measures, shipping services to and from Kadavu have been suspended for the week commencing 19th of August to the 26th of August 2021," he said.

"A 14-day containment zone has been established for the Gasele Nursing Zone in Kadavu. A clinical scouting team will be deployed to assist our health team in Kadavu in mapping out a plan to escalate clinical care capability and strengthen care access, especially to the identified vulnerable persons.

"The Ministry reiterates its call for maritime islanders not to engage in unauthorised travel to and from Viti Levu and all our current protocols to regulate domestic movements must be adhered to in order to prevent the spread of the virus beyond Viti Levu" where the outbreak is centred.

On Friday, a total of 47 cases were recorded outside Viti Levu - 46 on Kadavu and one at Nabouwalu, Bua, on Fiji's second largest island Vanua Levu.

Dr Fong said Friday also had marked the third day for the enforcement of the Nabouwalu containment zone.

"Day 4 tests for all except two primary contacts of the case reported from Nabouwalu have returned negative results.

"Results of the remaining two primary contacts are pending, meanwhile, the health service set up at the Immaculate Junior Secondary School is working well while health teams from Labasa Hospital are travelling daily to Bua Nursing Station and Lekutu Health Centre to provide health services to the community outside the containment zone and border controls at Nabouwalu."

Dr Fong said health services to other northern ports have been reinforced.


.. Photo: Fiji govt

Infections, deaths soar

Covid infections continue to rise with 185 cases announced in the Western Division yesterday. There were 33 cases in the Central Division.

There have been 1468 recoveries since the last update, which Dr Fong said means there are now 19,097 active cases in isolation.

He said 10,252 of these cases are in the Central Division, 8713 in the West, one in the North (Nabouwalu) and 131 active cases in the Eastern Division (Kadavu).

"We are currently reviewing and reconciling our active case database with recoveries and as a result we expect the recovery numbers to increase in the coming weeks.

"There have been 43,527 cases during the outbreak that started in April 2021. We have recorded a total of 43,597 cases in Fiji since the first case was reported in March 2020. There have been a total of 23,809 recoveries since."

Latest deaths reported over four days

Dr Fong said the five new Covid-19 deaths were reported during 19-22 August, with one death from the Central Division and the rest in the West.

Dr James Fong.

Dr James Fong. Photo: Facebook/Fiji govt

* An 84-year-old man from Nakasi died at home on 19 August.

* A 61-year-old woman from Tavua presented to the Tavua Hospital in severe respiratory distress on 16 August. She reported shortness of breath two days prior to her presentation but died five days later.

* A 56-year-old woman from Lautoka presented to the Lautoka Hospital in severe respiratory distress on 14 August. She reportedly had a cough and shortness of breath for two days prior to her presentation. She died seven days later.

* A 56-year-old man from Ba presented to the Ba Mission Hospital in severe respiratory distress on 21 August. He was reported to have a fever, cough and shortness of breath two days prior to his presentation. He died the following day after his admission.

* A 50-year-old man from Nadi presented to the Nadi Hospital in severe respiratory distress. He was transferred by a medical team from the Nadi Hospital to the Lautoka Hospital on 19 August. He died three days later. His family reported that he had a cough, shortness of breath and generalised weakness one week before he visited the Nadi Hospital.

Four more Covid-positive people had died however, Dr Fong said their deaths were not caused by the virus but due to serious pre-existing medical conditions.

He said seven-day rolling average of Covid deaths per day is eight, with two in the central division and 6 in the west..

"Due to the time required by clinical teams to investigate, classify and report deaths, a 4-day interval is required to calculate the 7-day rolling average of deaths based on date of death, in order to help ensure the data collected is complete before the average is reported.

"We also have recorded 253 positive patients who died from the serious medical conditions that they had before they contracted Covid-19; these are not classified as covid deaths."

Colonial War Memorial Hospital in Suva

Colonial War Memorial Hospital in Suva Photo: Doctors Assisting in South Pacific Islands

Close to 300 most serious in hospitals

There are 296 Covid patients admitted to hospital - 114 of them are at the Lautoka Hospital, 38 at the FEMAT field hospital, and 144 are admitted at the Colonial War Memorial, St Giles and Makoi hospitals.

Dr Fong said 20 patients are in a severe condition while 20 others are critical.

As of 21 August, 543,254 people have received their first dose of the vaccine and 234,905 have got both jabs.

"This means that 92.6 percent of the target population have received at least one dose and 40 percent are now fully vaccinated nation-wide.

"The 7-day average of new cases per day is 480 or 542 cases per million population per day."

Dr Fong said a total of 318,146 samples had been tested since the April outbreak, with 361,007 tested since March 2020.

He said 1613 tests had been reported for 21 August and the data is yet to be known.

"Therefore, testing data numbers are expected to increase. The 7-day daily test average is 1489 tests per day or 1.7 tests per 1000 population. The national 7-day average daily test positivity is 32.8 percent."

The World Health Organisation (WHO) test threshold is five percent.

The Covid-19 Drive-Through Vaccination Centre in Suva.

The Covid-19 Drive-Through Vaccination Centre in Suva. Photo: Facebook/Fiji govt

Pandemic having a detrimental effect on young people's education

Schools have been closed for almost four months now and only one in 10 students have access to technology due to barriers like lack of connectivity and inequity.

The Fiji Teacher's Union General Secretary, Agni Singh said 70-percent of students in Fiji are relying on teachers to drop off worksheets for parents to pick up so students can complete their schooling.

"Connectivity and data all these issues are a major issues here. Very few have smart phones. Teachers are going out of their way to prepare hard copies, expecting them to be returned to the skills at least every 2 weeks."

Agni Singh said eight teachers are recovering from covid-19.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs