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11 November 2022

Baby dies of Covid-19 in Fiji as govt eases curfew restrictions

Tuesday 23 November 2021 | Written by RNZ | Published in Fiji, Regional

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Baby dies of Covid-19 in Fiji as govt eases curfew restrictions
The baby died at Colonial War Memorial Hospital in Suva. Photo: Doctors Assisting in South Pacific Islands

A three-month-old baby has died of Covid-19 in Fiji. The infant's death brings the country's death toll from the virus to 695.

In its latest update on 19 November, the government also confirmed 10 new cases, taking the number of active cases to 333.

By August, it was thought about 10 children had died from the virus in Fiji since April, with the youngest a two-month-old boy who died in July.

Since then, at least three more children have died; a four-month-old baby from Central Divisiona nine-year-old boy from Tailevu and this three-month-old baby.

Health Secretary James Fong said the latest baby to die was from Naitasiri province, and was referred from Vunidawa Hospital on 30 October in respiratory shock.

"He was medically assessed and stabilised by the attending doctor while a medical retrieval team was sent over to Vunidawa.

"The baby was then transferred to the Colonial War Memorial Hospital in Suva."

Dr Fong said the baby had been sick and coughing for three days before being admitted to hospital, and Covid-19 testing on admission returned a positive result.

He died on 2 November.

"He was not vaccinated as he was not in the current target population of people 12 years and over that are eligible to receive the vaccine."

Dr Fong has previously said that giving the vaccine to those 12 years old and over also provides some protection for those too young to receive it, as it slows the transmission of the virus.

There are 17 Covid-19 patients in critical condition in hospitals in Fiji.

National curfew eased

Fiji's curfew hours have been moved to midnight until 4am each day, effective last weekend.

This comes as the country achieved 90 percent vaccination rate last week.

The health ministry said it had administered 556,322 (90 percent) second doses of the vaccine to eligible adults and 600,140 (97.1 percent) first doses since 17 November.

Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said in October that once 90 percent of the target population were fully vaccinated, the curfew hours would be moved from an 11pm start to a midnight start.

"Although the achievement of these vaccination milestones results in the easing of restrictions, Covid-19 is still here and we must exercise caution to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and our Fiji," the health ministry said in a statement.

"The public is reminded that we must continue to adhere to Covid-19 safe measures of wearing masks appropriately, especially in indoor public spaces, covering our coughs and sneezes, washing our hands regularly with soap and water, or using a hand sanitiser and maintaining a safe physical distancing of 2 metres."

Fiji reopened its international borders on 11 November to fully vaccinated diplomats, returning Fijian residents, permit holders those granted special permission. The country opens its borders to vaccinated tourists from 1 December.