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In brief: Covid-19 in the Pacific

Wednesday 23 February 2022 | Written by RNZ | Published in Pacific Islands, Regional


In brief: Covid-19 in the Pacific

People in American Samoa are in disbelief after the discovery of its first Covid-19 case in the community.

American Samoans in 'disbelief' over community Covid-19 cases

A health worker contracted Covid-19 and then infected his family who are based in Leone who attended several gatherings over the weekend including church.

American Samoa is in Code Red - meaning people must stay home, be vaccinated, wear masks and only essential services are open.

RNZ Pacific Correspondent in Monica Miller said there was a lot of panic buying when people found out Monday night.

"All this time American Samoa has managed to ward of any community spread. It is a feeling of disbelief. How did we get to this when everything was followed. They were very strict. The fact that it turns out not to be a traveller but an employee of the department of health."

She said 80-percent of America Samoa is fully vaccinated.

Tonga records 287 Covid cases

Tonga's Prime Minister Hu'akavameiluku Siaosi Sovaleni said there are now 287 postive cases of Covid-19 in the kingdom.

"The total number of positive cases recorded in Tonga to date is 287. The number of active cases at this time is 133. 57 people have recovered, that means they were tested positive and are now testing negative."

The Minister of Health Saia Piukala said that test samples sent to Australia continuted to be identified as the Omicron variant.

The prime minister added said that over 20,000 Tongans have been tested for Covid-19.

Two more Covid cases in the Cook Islands

The Cook Islands Health Ministry Te Marae Ora has confirmed another two new positive of Covid-19 cases in the country, bringing the total number of current positive cases to six.

These cases - cases five and six - arrived in Rarotonga from New Zealand together onboard Air NZ flight NZ946 on Saturday, February 19, accompanied by a third travelling companion.

All three visitors, two of whom were symptomatic with runny noses and mild fever, went to get tested after one of them was informed that a friend they had had contact with three days earlier had just tested positive for Covid-19 in New Zealand.

Results from their rapid antigen tests came back with two positive and one negative.

Both cases five and six have been issued 10-day Isolation Orders, while their travelling companion who tested negative has been placed under a 10-day quarantine and will be tested again on days five and nine of their quarantine period.

Covid-19 Fiji: 2 deaths, 26 new cases

Fiji has reported two Covid-19 deaths and 26 new positive cases in the community.

The Government said both victims - aged 73 and 79 - were not vaccinated.

Fiji has 81 active cases in isolation with the death toll at 826 since the pandemic started in March 2020.

There were also 876 Covid-19 patients who died but the Health Ministry said their deaths were caused by other serious medical conditions and not the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, Health authorities this week reported a sustained downward trend in daily Covid-19 hospitalisations since the third wave began last November.

There are 17 cases in hospital.

Fiji's Health Minister Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete said hospital services - particularly in the remote areas - are being improved to cope with any demand.

"I'm interested to hear how to make our facilities more functional. We have begun instituting change where we are putting our nursing practitioners in some nursing stations so I'm keen to see whether there are some nursing stations that we can convert to a nursing practitioner station."

Health Minister, Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete
Health Minister, Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete Photo: Fiji Govt

Waqainabete said anyone admitted to the hospital is tested before admission, including those with non-Covid health conditions.

"Anyone admitted to the hospital is tested before admission, therefore, a significant number of people are admitted to the hospital for non-Covid health conditions," Dr Fong said.

"But incidentally, test positive due to the high amount of transmission in the community."

Dr Fong said the number of people being admitted because of Covid-19 remained low.

He said 126 tests had been reported for 21 February this year and the total tests since 2020 were 495,355.