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Covid-19: too early to celebrate reduction in cases – Fiji govt

Thursday 12 August 2021 | Written by RNZ | Published in Fiji, Regional


Covid-19: too early to celebrate reduction in cases – Fiji govt
Photo: AFP via RNZ

A drop in daily Covid-19 cases in Fiji should not be interpreted as a true reduction of infections, and could be due to changes in testing, the government said.

Thirteen people have died from Covid-19 in the country for the 24 hours to 8am Wednesday.

The Health Ministry said six deaths were reported from the Central Division and seven from the West, and 568 new cases. There had been 264 cases and 10 deaths in the previous 24 hour period.

New cases soared at the start of August, with the case count exceeding 1000 cases for several days.

Health Secretary James Fong said of the latest cases, 262 were reported in Western Division and 306 in Central Division.

He said over the last few weeks, the ministry has had to shift and re-strategise its Covid-19 testing plan to address the significant pressure on laboratories and health services in both divisions.

This included being more targeted with testing "so we can provide a rapid turnaround of results for those most at risk of severe Covid-19".

"We can anticipate that these shifts have an impact on our daily reported case numbers, and this is why it is critical that we use various data to inform our understanding of the current situation in these divisions," Dr Fong told a media conference in Suva last night.

"Currently, our surveillance teams are rapidly analysing various data sources to help us build a clearer picture of the current transmission in these two divisions.

"However, we do know that the risk of exposure to the virus in both Central and Western divisions remains extremely high with significant community transmission of the virus."

NZ travel restriction accepted by Dr Fong, lockdown rejected

Dr Fong said he accepted the new travel restrictions from Fiji to New Zealand, agreeing the outbreak in his country was out of control.

New Zealand yesterday added Fiji to the list of countries designated as very high risk for Covid-19, which limits travel from the Pacific island nation.

From 11:59pm (NZ time) on 15 August travel to New Zealand from Indonesia and Fiji will be restricted to New Zealand citizens, their partners and children, parents of any dependent children who are New Zealand citizens and children of those parents allowed entry but who are not New Zealand citizens.

Any travellers from both Fiji and Indonesia who meet the restrictions must spend 14 days in MIQ when they arrive in New Zealand.

Dr James Fong stood by his stance that a lockdown would not be effective, and said Fiji had now moved into a mitigation phase.

"I accept that that's their perspective. It's obvious to the world that we are in a bad state.

"We have the highest number of cases per million. The number of deaths we have had a also high when you compare it globally."

Fiji's Ministry of Health said since the last update 664 people had recovered, leaving 24,299 active cases in isolation. In total 38,344 cases have been detected during the outbreak that started in April this year.

The total death toll from Covid-19 is 340 people. All but two died in the latest outbreak that began in April.

Vaccination numbers

Dr Fong said by 10 August: "523,285 adults in Fiji have received their first dose of the vaccine and 196,873 have received their second dose.

"This means that 89.2 percent of the target population have received at least one dose and 33.6 percent are now fully vaccinated nation-wide.

"Fijians can check the Ministry's vaccine dashboard to find real-time data on first-dose and second-dose numbers at the national, divisional, and sub-divisional levels."