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No new cases but warning sounded

May 3, 2021 5:00 am
Checkpoint at Tacirua.

There are no new cases of COVID-19 in Fiji yesterday, but the Health Ministry says the danger is not over.

Permanent Secretary, Doctor James Fong, says based on what they have seen, the lifting at 4am looks on track but this does not mean people drop their guard.

“But no confirmed cases, at this stage, is no reason for celebration. It doesn’t mean there are no cases out there; it means none have been detected over the past 24 hours. We are certain there are more cases that will develop or  worryingly that an unconfirmed case of the virus has already developed into a highly-contagious disease. Our biggest fear right now is that someone, with symptoms, has not reported to a screening clinic or called 158. This virus arrives in waves. A lull can often signal a surge. So let’s not let one day of no new cases fool anyone into thinking this storm is over. So, I don’t want any news headlines to have “Zeri New Cases” blasted out on their platforms. That will accomplish nothing, except for causing more Fijians to let their guards down. This is a matter of when, not if, we detect additional cases, so while it is a glimmer of hope, the road ahead is far from clear.”

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He says with everyone safely at home over the weekend, contact tracing teams have worked tirelessly through the torrential rains this weekend to identify the contacts of case 113 — the garment factory employee.

“Of her 877 contacts, 95% have been contacted, screened, and swabbed, including all of her closest contacts who shared her bus and worked in close proximity to her at the factory. They will all remain under home quarantine for at least 14 days from their last contact with the case. 611 have tested negative for COVID-19 so far with more samples being tested.”

Doctor Fong says, “there are five percent of contacts yet to be identified, and the lifting of the curfew could change if we are unable to find all or most of that missing five percent of contacts, or our testing reveals new, high-risk cases — we will be loud and clear with the public if that happens. But we are confident, at this stage, that we can identify the remaining contacts in Suva and Nausori and lift the lockdown on schedule. However, we’ll let people know by midnight tonight on radio, the Fijian Government Facebook page, or via text message blast, if something changes.”

He says should we stay on course of the lifting of the lockdown, the Suva-Nausori Lockdown Zone will revert into two separate containment areas, the Suva Containment Area and the Nausori Containment Area, from 4am today.

“The borders of the areas are unchanged. The lifting of that lockdown measure will mean that, within these containment areas, movement — for essential purposes only, may resume. Our system of cross-border deliveries of food and essential items into the containment areas will also resume. And supermarkets, banks, pharmacies and other essential businesses — as identified by the Ministry, may operate from tomorrow.”

The Ministry says the two clusters in Ra are still unlinked to other existing cases.

We are pursuing two main leads — one is that the cases are related directly to the quarantine facility breach. Two, that these cases may be rippling out from an individual in Ra who attended the funeral in Tavakubu. If you are this person, or you know this person, please contact the Ministry at 158,” says Doctor Fong.

He says they are still waiting for the results from Melbourne to confirm a genetic link to other local cases in Fiji.

“One of our source points I’d like to flag with you all today stems from case number 98, the patient who resides in Makoi. Her brother-in-law — who was case number 98 — played rugby in a team that competed at the Malomalo 7s at Lawaqa Park Sigatoka on April 16th-17th. Working with the coaches at the tournament, we’ve contacted most of those he may have had contact with– however, there are still some missing pieces. We’re asking any of the rugby players who played in the Malomalo 7s– who are yet to be contacted by the Ministry — to please call 158,” Doctor Fong says.

Fiji currently has 49 active cases of COVID-19, 31 of which are locally transmitted cases with three recoveries within border quarantine.

16 are currently active border quarantine cases. The three which have recovered are from older border quarantine and had tested positive before all flights were stopped.

There are two cases in Rakiraki, and health officials are still trying to trace the source.

Looking at our second wave cases so far, yesterday, the two daughters of the woman from Cunningham Stage One tested positive in quarantine and the day before, a woman, who is the wife of case number 110, had  tested positive.

Earlier this week, we had a person test positive on Thursday.

He had arrived from PNG arrival, was in quarantine and tested since April 9th, had three negative pre-departure tests before leaving PNG, and tested negative twice while in Tanoa quarantine facility before being discharged last Friday.

He was re-swabbed in Navua as part of the quarantine breaches at the facility and tested positive.

A woman from Vunimono, Nausori was announced on Thursday.

She is the wife of the man who had tested positive on Wednesday and his 52-year-old aunt are all positive cases.

The 52-year-old is a concern as she worked in a garment factory, which had been shut down since the restrictions were announced but screening for anyone she worked with is ongoing.

A 68-year-old male from Rakiraki also tested positive yesterday, while, a border quarantine case, a man who had traveled from Guyana to Fiji and is a Tongan national and was on his way to Tonga is also infected.

He arrived on the last flight into Fiji on April 22, through NZ 952 from Auckland.

The 25-year-old man who had stayed at the Makoi house of the soldier and his wife, who is also positive, was announced on Wednesday as positive.

Four of the six are soldiers returning from overseas and fraternized amongst themselves and were announced positive this week along with two family members of the woman from Wainitarawau, Cunningham Stage 1.

Of the cases announced on Monday, first up was a soldier, who is a roommate of case 73 or soldier who was announced positive last Sunday, while there were also four cases, who are all contacts of the hotel maid from Nadi, who had tested positive after having contracted the virus from the first solider or case 73, during an interaction.

The cases continue after the maid from Nadi tested positive last week Monday and the day before when the army officer had got the virus, after supposedly handling the baggage of a couple who had arrived from India with the virus.

Following that, we had a woman from Cunningham, who had attended the ‘Super Spreader’ funeral in Tavakubu, Lautoka, while her 14-year-old daughter and toddler contracted the virus as well.

The maid’s daughter and a close contact along with another couple who attended the funeral, have also tested positive, with the woman from Makoi, who is the wife of the soldier, who had made contact with case 73.

The Health Ministry has also announced the areas of interest in its effort to track anybody who could have come in contact with those who have so far tested positive of COVID-19.

People who were present at these venues and times and have not been contacted are to contact 158 and remain at home.

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