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Covid-19: One death, 309 new cases amid third wave in Fiji

Thursday 30 December 2021 | Written by RNZ | Published in Fiji, Regional

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Covid-19: One death, 309 new cases amid third wave in Fiji
Photo: AFP

Fiji has reported one death and 309 new cases of Covid-19 in the community - 194 of them confirmed in the 24 hours to 8am on Wednesday.

This brings the total number of active cases to 780 as health authorities tackle a third wave of the coronavirus outbreak across the country.

The Government also confirmed that out of the latest cases, 115 were recorded on 28 December.

A 62-year-old Covid patient had died at home on Christmas Day. He was fully vaccinated and had suffered severe respiratory distress.

The death toll is now at 698, with 696 of them from the latest outbreak that began in April this year.

"We have also recorded 619 Covid-19 positive patients who died from serious medical conditions they had before they contracted Covid-19," said Health Secretary James Fong. "These are not classified as Covid-19 deaths.

"Of the 194 cases recorded in the last 24 hours, 136 cases were in the Northern Division; 6 in the Western Division including 4 cases from border quarantine, 46 in the Central Division and 6 cases were recorded in the Eastern Division.

"The national 7-day rolling average of cases as of 25 December is 10 daily cases," Dr Fong said.

He said the current increase in Covid-19 cases represents the beginnings of the third wave of Covid-19 in Fiji.

While he could not confirm how many of the latest cases were of the Omicron variant, Dr Fong said there are no severe Covid-19 cases in Fiji.

The Health Ministry had announced 208 new cases on Monday. But Dr Fong is yet to confirm whether these cases were of the B1617 Delta variant or the Omicron.

This may be a resurgence of the endemic Delta variant, Dr Fong said, "however we are also working on the assumption that the Omicron variant is already here, and is being transmitted within the community.

"We expect that genomic sequencing results of Covid-19 positive samples sent overseas will confirm this in due course.

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.. Photo: Fiji MOH

"Should this wave be driven by the Omicron variant, based on what we are seeing overseas, we should expect a large number of cases, and we will also expect that infections will occur in vaccinated persons and those who have previously been infected with the Delta variant."

Dr Fong said people who are vaccinated or had booster doses are far less likely to become sick enough to require hospitalisation.

He said the main focus of the ministry's vaccination program is preventing severe illness and death, "which will also help to limit the strain on our medical services.

"Any additional protection that vaccines can provide against infection is an added bonus.

"The three divisional hospitals are reporting an increase in positive cases admitted to the hospital, however, none of the cases so far are presenting with Covid-related medical problems.

"They are being admitted for other medical conditions and are testing positive during mandatory testing for all admissions to the hospital."

Dr Fong said they are expecting cases to be reported in the maritime islands given the opening of maritime travel and the many social media postings of crowding in maritime vessels and in social gatherings.

These maritime islands and the Northern Division were largely spared the Delta outbreak that affected Viti Levu earlier this year, he said.

"The main advantage in these islands and the Northern Division is 80 percent of the adult population have been vaccinated plus a significant number of children above 15.

"As of 29 December, 92.1 percent of Fiji's adult population are fully vaccinated while 97.8 percent have yet to receive their second dose of the vaccine."

Dr Fong said 39,954 children aged 12-17 were vaccinated, while 58,283 teenagers are yet to get their second injection.

Front-line workers at the swab drive-through in Vunimono, Nausori.
Front-line workers at the swab drive-through in Vunimono, Nausori. Photo: Ministry of Health, Fiji