30 Aug 2021

Covid-19 is here to stay, says Fiji health expert

6:38 am on 30 August 2021

Covid-19 will remain in Fiji just like the common flu, the country's chief medical advisor said.

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Photo: Fiji govt

This comes amid 396 new cases confirmed by the Government last night.

Of the latest cases, 303 were from the Western Division and 193 from the Central Division.

Dr Jemesa Tudravu said the virus would become an endemic disease just like the common flu.

"So, where are we heading? From a health perspective, we believe we are heading towards Covid-19 becoming an endemic disease in Fiji, similar to the flu virus.

"We are not going back to a Covid-contained or Covid-free country, instead we are going ahead to a Fiji where the disease will be endemic.

"What that means is there will be a low number of disease cases right throughout the year with a small number of hospitalisations and severe disease.

"But what will suppress this is the level of vaccination that we will have in the community."

Dr Tudravu said it was anticipated to happen.

Meanwhile, out of the latest cases recorded in the Western Division (303), six were from the remote holiday hotspot - Malolo Island.

Health Secretary Dr James Fong said all of these individuals are in isolation.

"There are now 29 active cases on Malolo Island," he said.

Dr Jemesa Tudravu.

Dr Jemesa Tudravu. Photo: Fiji govt

As of 24 August, the national 7-day rolling average of covid deaths per day is 7 with 2 in the Central Division and 5 in the West.

There were also 297 covid-positive patients who had died from serious medical conditions that they had before they contracted the virus, Dr Fong said. These, he added, were not classified as Covid-19 deaths.

Youngest Covid-19 victim

There were no deaths to report since Saturday.

But 11 people were reported to have died in the ministry's Friday update.

This included two children aged six-months and 11 years old.

Dr Fong said the six-month-old infant from the Nausori Highlands is Fiji's youngest patient to have died from Covid.

He said the child was taken to the Bukuya Health Centre by his parents on 3 August after suffering from a fever.

"He was noted to be in severe respiratory distress by the attending medical officer at the Bukuya Health Centre."

He said the infant was stabilised and a medical team from the Nadi Hospital was arranged to retrieve the child from the health centre.

He was later transferred to the Lautoka Divisional Hospital.

Sadly, Dr Fong said, the infant died almost three weeks after admission.

A health worker prepares a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine for a resident at a drive-through vaccination centre in Suva.

A health worker prepares a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine for a resident at a drive-through vaccination centre in Suva. Photo: AFP / Leon Lord

Dr Fong also said that an 11-year-old girl from Naboutini Village in Navua was pronounced dead on arrival by the attending medical officer at the Navua Hospital last Thursday.

He said as per protocol the child was swabbed and tested positive for Covid-19.

There are currently 236 Covid patients admitted to the hospital - 112 are at the Lautoka Hospital, 22 at the FEMAT field hospital, and 102 are admitted at the Colonial War Memorial, St Giles and Makoi hospitals.

Dr Fong said 24 patients are considered to be in severe condition, while nine are critical.

He said a total of 329,786 samples have been tested since the this outbreak started in April 2021, with 372,647 tested since March 2020.

He said 1219 tests have been reported for 28 August.

"As of the 28th of August, 558,894 adults in Fiji have received their first dose of the vaccine and 266,598 have received their second doses.

"This means that 95.3 percent of the target population have received at least one dose and 45.4 percent are now fully vaccinated nation-wide."

There have been 226 recoveries with 19,300 active cases in isolation.

The death toll is at 479 - 477 of them from the latest outbreak that began in April.

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