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COVID-19 continues to rattle Viti Levu as seven new infections announced

May 8, 2021 7:40 am

Fiji’s main island, Viti Levu, has seven local infections of the deadly COVID-19 yesterday, as the government machinery goes into overdrive to counter the spread of COVID-19 in the country.

A 30-year-old woman from  Lautoka, who has severe symptoms and has been sick for three weeks has tested positive.

This after she presented to the Kamikamica Health Centre and now has been admitted to the Lautoka hospital isolation unit and the members of her household have been quarantined.

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The Health Ministry says this patient did have some contact with medical officers and nurses within the health centre, which requires them to temporarily close the centre to the public.

However, the ministry says the level of exposure among clinical staff is not as extensive as was the case for Lautoka Hospital and expect the centre to re-open to the public following a thorough decontamination exercise.

The next is a 20-year-old woman who presented to the Makoi Screening clinic with COVID symptoms and is a contact of the household of the Makoi family cluster but was not identified as a contact at the time.

After being entered into isolation, three of her household members have since tested positive for the virus.

A 35-year-old male from Saru, Lautoka who presented with symptoms at Natabua Health Centre is also infected and he and his household contacts are being taken into isolation.

A 26-year-old male, and is the husband of case 75  from Kerebula Nadi and has been in a border quarantine facility in Nadi since April 18th and does not pose any transmission risk to the public.

Health officials will now have the mobile screening teams targeting the Makoi, Kinoya, Saru and Raiwaqa areas over the next several days and to increase quarantine quality and capacity, the Health Ministry will be using several of Suva’s hotels and motels as quarantine centers for primary contacts of new cases.


The mobile screening team in Raiwaqa today.

Health Permanent Secretary, Doctor James Fong, says, ” to lighten the patient load on our healthcare facilities, as we are doing in the West, private general practitioners in the Suva-Nausori-Lami corridor will soon offer non-COVID-related treatments and consultations to those Fijians who normally cannot afford to visit a private practitioner. Government will directly pay the private practitioners for the treatment and consultations provided for such people.”

For those who will be placed under  home quarantine, government will be outsourcing grocery delivery services to private companies, which will see private companies deliver groceries to the families under stay-at-home orders.
 
“This engagement of the private sector is being done in conjunction with the Ministry of Economy. Bringing these companies on board does more than lend efficiency, it allows businesses in Fiji to earn money and re-ignite employment and hiring. Quarantine centres will be in more hygienic facilities that are better run and more comfortable for patients. Fijians will have more options for medical treatments and consultations. The pace and efficiency of grocery deliveries will step-up. Government, of course, will fund these activities –– but it’s the private sector that will manage them, allowing my teams to focus their energy and resources entirely on matters directly related to the containment of the virus. This is a model that has been adopted and is working well overseas throughout the pandemic.”

Doctor Fong says their investigations have also revealed, all 37 staff of the centre have tested negative. This after a nurse from the facility tested positive yesterday.

“She had careFIJI installed and kept it running while she was away from her home and at work. She has told us she was diligent about mask-wearing. This is a positive sign, though we are still aggressively tracing her movements and identifying those she had contacted.  Her husband, who is case number 129, also had careFIJI installed, though for the most part he did not travel. He spent most days at home –– which is a very good thing. By mostly staying home, it’s likely he’s cut-off his own chain of transmission before it had a chance to begin. The couple reside together in Kinoya with no other household members. We have not linked either case to other patients. There are a few points of interest in the nurse’s travel history, but none are definitive as a source point of transmission.”

Doctor Fong says though they are testing record numbers of samples every day, and testing is happening at five Ministry laboratories across Fiji, they are concerned that we are seeing delays in turnaround of some test results – though not for priority samples.

“We have improved the situation with receipt of new machines (with more expected), and the engagement of additional staff. However, any delay is worrying because we need results of tests as soon as possible in order to identify cases quickly and launch an effective response. Therefore, we will now be resetting our testing strategy to target our containment areas of Suva, Nausori, Lami, Nadi, and Lautoka and Ra – while areas outside of these zones will stop mass testing and revert to the testing protocol in place prior to the outbreak. We must use all our resources to take the fight to where we know the outbreak is happening. Now is a critical time.”

There is also good news for some who will be allowed a one way pass to move.

“We are aware that a number of people have been displaced from their homes due the establishment of containment areas across Viti Levu, starting in Nadi-Lautoka on April 19th. There are currently six containment areas across Viti Levu-Nadi, Lautoka, Rakiraki, Nausori, Suva and Lami. From 4am tomorrow morning until 11pm Sunday those on Viti Levu who are currently outside of the containment area they live in will be allowed to return to their homes. This includes those who are stuck in one containment area but who need to move to another containment area in which they reside and those in a non-containment area who need to move into a containment area. This is a window for one-way travel only. Those who enter a new containment area will not be allowed to leave until such time that the containment area borders relax. As you travel, police will be taking contact tracing information at each border point to assist should you be considered a person of interest. I know there are some people within a containment area who are looking to move to a non-containment area –– we will work out separate dates for you. Please note that these movements ,once approved ,will be limited to Viti Levu. 

Doctor Fong adds that while he has announced that non-essential businesses outside of the containment areas are recommended to close, but only the closure of high-risk businesses, such as gyms, movie theatres, video gaming shops, cyber cafes, taverns, bars, billiard shops and amusement arcades, as well as hairdressers, barber shops, spas, beauty therapy, massage therapy venues, saunas and tattoo parlours, will be enforced by the police.

The Health Ministry says critical assets like health facilities, water, power, telecommunications, agriculture, banking and others will have to establish procedures to prevent infection from spreading among staff.

“That means they will have to work in isolated, self-contained units, “bubbles” if you will–in order to minimize the number of staff members who come into direct contact with each other. Anyone who can work remotely will have to do so. We urge all businesses to take measures to minimize contact among staff members. Employees who must work closely together should remain within their group, or bubble, and not interact directly with other employees. We will be issuing specific guidelines to assist businesses.”

Fiji now has a total of 49 active cases, with being nine border quarantine, 34 local transmissions and six under investigation.

 

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