Dr Fong says vaccination, including boosters are critical in protection against severe illness from this variant.
The Permanent Secretary for Health has emphasized that old containment response cannot be applied to tackle new variants of COVID-19.
Doctor James Fong says Omicron is likely not the last variant of concern and Fiji needs to adapt its approaches to confront this virus.
He adds vaccination, including boosters are critical in protection against severe illness from this variant.
The PS says the second is prudence as Fijians must continue to use proven, good common-sense measures to limit the spread.
“Our task now is to find an approach that is able to control the disease incidents and the hospitalization and that approach has to be pragmatic, ethical, and sustainable for people’s livelihood.”
Dr Fong says he is aware of the implications of this variant, particularly it’s potential to impact Fiji’s health services.
He adds it is inhumane, impractical and unnecessary to force people into lockdown, as it does not work well against highly transmissible variants.
“What matters with regards to this variant is hospitalizations due to COVID-19 and ICU admissions due to COVID 19. Both of those numbers are low. We have achieved high vaccination in those most likely to be infected and we have fully vaccinated 90% of persons over the age of 15″.
The immunity that has been built through vaccination, together with the numbers of people who have gained some immunity due to prior infection, means that the vast majority of people infected by Omicron will have a manageable illness and can recover from home.”
However, Dr Fong says some people are still vulnerable to severe disease even if they are fully vaccinated and these adults need to receive their booster doses.
He says until Fiji achieves wider booster coverage, the Health Ministry’s focus will be to suppress transmission through basic measures.