COVID-19 FAQs

Last Updated on 1 month by Riaz Hassan

About COVID-19

A. The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a new virus. Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses, with six of these viruses known to cause a range of illnesses from the common cold to the more serious Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). The new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. COVID-19 is now a pandemic affecting most countries globally.
The virus is spread from person to person through respiratory droplets, which are released when an infected person coughs or sneezes. A person can get infected if they inhale these droplets or if they touch a surface or object (like a door handle or table) that has the virus on it and then touch their mouth, nose or eyes. Generally, the virus is spread when a person is in close contact with an infected person.
There have been reported outbreaks of COVID-19 in some closed settings, such as restaurants, nightclubs, places of worship or places of work where people may be shouting, talking, or singing. In these outbreaks, aerosol transmission, particularly in these indoor locations where there are crowded and inadequately ventilated spaces where infected persons spend long periods of time with others, cannot be ruled out.
A: The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are:
● fever
● dry cough
● difficulty breathing
● fatigue (extreme tiredness)
● sore throat
Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, or diarrhea.
Most people experience mild, flu-like symptoms. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don’t feel unwell. Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing hospital treatment. Around one out of every five people who get COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. People with fever, cough, and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.
A: The incubation period is the time between infection and the onset of clinical symptoms of the disease. The incubation period for COVID-19 is currently estimated at between one to 14 days, though symptoms typically start around five to six days after a person is infected with the virus.
While people are most infectious when they experience (flu-like) symptoms, it may be possible that people can transmit the virus without having any symptoms or before the symptoms appear. However, investigations are ongoing to determine this.
If people infected with COVID-19 are tested and diagnosed quickly and there is a rapid public health response undertaken to reduce the spread of the virus, the chance of further continued spread of the virus in a community is likely to be low.
A: Like other respiratory illnesses, infection with COVID-19 can cause mild symptoms including a runny nose, sore throat, cough, and fever. For some people, it can be more severe and can lead to pneumonia or breathing difficulties. More rarely, the disease can be fatal. Older people and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as diabetes and heart disease) appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus.
Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing hospital treatment. Around one out of every five people who get COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing.
If you are sick and think you have symptoms of COVID-19, Call 158, the COVID-19 Call Centre. The line operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and is free of charge, or visit your nearest fever clinic (See list here). For more information on clinics go to Fever Clinics tab below.
Avoid crowds or traveling on public transport, to help prevent the spread of the virus.
A: A person with COVID-19 anywhere in the world is a risk everywhere in the world. Until there is an effective vaccine or treatment for COVID, we must stay alert and adapt to a new way of living. Illness due to COVID-19 infection is generally mild, especially for children and young adults. However, it can cause serious illness: about 1 in every 5 people who catch it need hospital care. It is therefore quite normal for people to worry about how the COVID-19 outbreak will affect them and their loved ones. We can channel our concerns into actions to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities. Firstly, among these actions is regular and thorough hand-washing and good respiratory hygiene. Secondly, keep informed and follow the advice of the Ministry of Health and Medical Services including any restrictions put in place on travel, movement, and gatherings.
A: Everyone is at risk of catching COVID-19, but people who are most at risk of suffering serious illness are people over 60 years of age, and people with underlying medical problems such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, high blood pressure, heart and lung problems, or cancer.
However, anyone can catch COVID-19 and become seriously ill.
A: Studies to date suggest that the virus that causes COVID-19 is mainly transmitted through contact with respiratory droplets rather than through the air. However, there have been reported outbreaks of COVID-19 in some closed settings, such as restaurants, nightclubs, places of worship or places of work where people may be shouting, talking, or singing. In these outbreaks, aerosol transmission, particularly in these indoor locations where there are crowded and inadequately ventilated spaces where infected persons spend long periods of time with others, cannot be ruled out.
This is why it is always important to stay at least 1.5 metres from others, cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze with a bent elbow or tissue, avoid crowds, and limit your time in enclosed public spaces.
A: The most important thing to know about coronavirus on surfaces is that they can easily be cleaned with common household disinfectants that will kill the virus. A 1:10 dilution of household bleach is an effective cleaning agent. Studies have shown that the coronavirus can survive for up to 72 hours on plastic and stainless steel, less than 4 hours on copper, and less than 24 hours on cardboard.
Regularly clean surfaces and objects that are frequently touched, using a disinfectant. Clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose.

A: Yes, infected people can transmit the virus both when they have symptoms, and when they don’t have symptoms. This is why it is important that all people who are infected are identified by testing, isolated, and, depending on the severity of their disease, receive medical care. Even people confirmed to have COVID-19 but who do not have symptoms should be isolated to limit their contact with others. These measures break chains of transmission.

This is why it is always important to stay at least 1.5 metres from others, cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze with a bent elbow or tissue, clean your hands regularly, avoid crowds, limit your time in enclosed public spaces, and stay home if you become unwell or if asked.

A: The risk of catching COVID-19 from the faeces of an infected person appears to be low. While initial investigations suggest the virus may be present in faeces in some cases, spread through this route is not a main feature of the outbreak. WHO is assessing ongoing research on the ways COVID-19 is spread and will continue to share new findings. Because this is a risk, however, it is another reason to clean hands regularly, after using the bathroom and before eating.
A: COVID-19 is mainly spread through droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks. There is no evidence that the virus can spread to people from the skin, fur, or hair of pets. A small number of pets worldwide, including cats and dogs, have been reported to be infected with the virus, mostly after close contact with people with COVID-19. To protect yourself, clean your hands frequently and thoroughly after handling animals, their food or supplies, as well as avoiding kissing, licking or sharing food. WHO continues to monitor the latest research on this and other COVID-19 topics and will update as new findings are available. For more information on COVID and pets, go to WHO.
A: To date, there is no specific medicine recommended to prevent or treat COVID-19. However, those infected with COVID-19 should receive appropriate care to relieve and treat symptoms, and those with severe illness should receive optimized supportive care. Supportive care (e.g. supportive therapy and monitoring – oxygen therapy, fluid management, and antivirals) can be highly effective for those infected.
It is not clear whether people who have had COVID-19 have immunity from getting it again. There is no evidence that those who have antibodies are prevented from a second infection.

Prevention

A: To help minimize the spread COVID-19:

● Clean your hands frequently and thoroughly. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer or wash your hands with soap and water. If you use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, make sure you use and store it carefully.
● Keep alcohol-based hand sanitizers out of children’s reach.
● Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and nose immediately after using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, as it can cause irritation.
● Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
● Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
● Stay home when you are sick.
● Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
● Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces every day. High touch surfaces include counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables.
● Wash your hands often with soap and water.● Download the careFIJI app and keep your Bluetooth turned on.
Why? The FIJI app helps speed up contact tracing. careFIJI is a mobile application (app) by the Fijian Government under the digitalFIJI initiative to assist the Ministry of Health and Medical Services to streamline and speed up its manual contact tracing efforts. By opting into this voluntary initiative, Fijians can help stop the spread of COVID-19 and save lives by harnessing the power of technology –– all while maintaining their absolute security and privacy. Using Bluetooth technology that does not capture any location or GPS information, careFIJI is based on the TraceTogether mobile application developed by the Singaporean Government and mirrors the COVIDSAFE app widely adopted by millions of Australians in their own fight to eliminate COVID-19. For further information and to download the app, visit www.carefiji.digitalfiji.gov.fj
A: Stay aware of the latest information on the COVID-19 outbreak, available on the WHO website, and through the Ministry of Health and Medical Services. This is a rapidly evolving situation so check regularly for the latest news. You can reduce your chances of being infected or spreading COVID-19 by taking some simple precautions. It is important for everyone to practice these simple steps even when there are no people infected with COVID-19 in Fiji:
● Regularly and thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water or clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub.
Why? Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands.
● Keep at least 1.5 metres distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing. Avoid shaking hands, kissing, or hugging.
Why? When someone coughs or sneezes they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain the virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease.
● Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth.
Why? Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose, or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can infect you and make you sick.
● Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.
Why? Droplets spread viruses. By following good respiratory hygiene you protect the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu, and COVID-19.
● Regularly clean surfaces and objects that are frequently touched with disinfectant.
Why? People infected with COVID-19 may leave infected droplets on objects and surfaces when they sneeze, cough on, or touch surfaces, such as tables, doorknobs, and handrails. Other people may become infected by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, noses, or mouths before cleaning their hands.
● Avoid crowds, and limit your time in enclosed spaces.
Why? Aerosol transmission of COVID-19 cannot be ruled out, particularly in indoor locations where there are crowded and inadequately ventilated spaces where infected persons spend long periods of time with others. These include restaurants, nightclubs, places of worship or places of work where people may be shouting, talking, or singing.
A: People who are most at risk (people over 60 years of age, and people with underlying medical problems such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, high blood pressure, heart and lung problems, and cancer, or who have recently had surgery and should take extra precautions by:
● avoiding large gatherings that could put them at risk of being infected with the virus
● ensuring that they have enough supply of routine medications, food and other household supplies in case they need to stay at home for up to 14 days
● talking to your doctor today about how to best prepare for COVID-19
A: Currently the Government does not recommend the use of fabric masks by the general public. However, there may be certain situations where you are required or recommended to wear a mask. These situations are detailed in the Fijian COVID Safe Economic Recovery Framework (Click here for the Framework)
A: No. There are currently no vaccines against coronaviruses, including COVID-19. That is why it is very important to prevent infection or contain further spread after an infection with the COVID-19.
A: No. Influenza and COVID-19 are two different viruses and the seasonal influenza vaccine would not protect against infection caused by COVID-19.
A: No. Antibiotics do not work against viruses; they only work on bacterial infections. COVID-19 is caused by a virus, so antibiotics do not work. Antibiotics should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment of COVID-19. They should only be used as directed by a physician to treat a bacterial infection.

Fever Clinics

A: Fever clinics are locations that have been set up in all four Divisions to conduct screening and assessments of anyone who shows any symptoms of COVID-19. These clinics are open seven days per week from 8am to 4pm, manned by health care professionals who will make appropriate referrals as necessary.
A: The MoHMS conducted an outreach screening using a mobile fever clinic approach, which used health teams to go from house to house actively assessing and screening people. This screening consisted of symptom checks, questions on travel history, and temperature checks.
A: You should visit a fever clinic if you have a fever or develop any symptoms of COVID-19, including dry cough, difficulty breathing, fatigue (extreme tiredness) or sore throat.
A: The Ministry of Health and Medical Services has set up fever clinics around the country. Click here for the current locations of clinics in each division.
No – Fever Clinics are used for triaging patients to separate those who are considered as high risk of having COVID-19. For prescriptions and medication, you will be required to see a medical officer and visit the pharmacy.
A: If your child has a fever and has recently traveled abroad or has been in close contact with someone who has recently traveled abroad, your child will also need to be screened at the fever clinic. Otherwise, you should not bring children with you, as you increase their risk of exposure to communicable diseases.
A: Yes. If they have any further concerns about access, they should call 158 or have someone call for them.
A: Call 158 for further assistance or contact your nearest health centre.

Screening and Testing

A:
Screening:
Screening for COVID-19 is a series of questions asked to determine a person’s risk for COVID-19. They include questions about the symptoms a person is experiencing, travel history in recent weeks, and exposure to someone who has been confirmed to have COVID-19. Right now, all persons entering Fiji either by air or sea are screened.
Testing:
This is the actual process of determining whether a person has COVID-19 or not. There are several reasons why someone would be tested for the coronavirus. Some are tested because they are having symptoms that appear to be COVID-19 like. Some are tested due to exposure to an infected person. Some people are tested as an exit screening tool to ensure that people entering into the community are not bringing COVID-19 into them. Fiji is also currently conducting tests for surveillance purposes which ensures that there is no community transmission of COVID-19.
A: MoHMS periodically reviews the testing criteria that are necessary for Fiji. With an increase in testing capacity, the aim of testing has now expanded to ensure that there is no undetected presence of the disease in the community. There are two (2) categories of testing – category 1 – suspected cases and category 2 – sentinel surveillance. For more information refer to the Testing Criteria.
A: If you develop flu-like symptoms, such as fever, cough, fatigue, sore throat, and shortness of breath, and think you may have been exposed to a person infected with COVID-19, you should call 158, the COVID-19 Call Centre, and tell us about your concerns and your contact with someone who has been infected. Call Centre staff will be able to inform you of the next steps and also whether laboratory tests need to be undertaken. If you suspect COVID-19, it is important that you self-isolate at home or your hotel room and avoid public spaces or crowds.
Trained health staff administer the test, wearing personal protective equipment such as gloves and masks. They carefully wash their hands before and after taking each sample. The patient is asked to first blow their nose.
● Then the patient must tilt their head back lightly and close their eyes.
● The health practitioner inserts a swab into the nostril to the back of the throat and will rub it gently to obtain nasopharyngeal secretions. They remove the swab and place it in a sample container ensuring the lid is securely closed.
● The sample is labeled correctly and kept in safe storage until collection (within 6–8 hours at the latest).
● The sample is sent to the lab at the Fiji Centre for Disease Control and the results are provided within 24 hours.
A: Fiji started laboratory testing of COVID-19 on 28th January 2020 with samples shipped to the WHO collaborating centre reference laboratory in Melbourne, Australia. A total of 19 samples were tested at this lab for Fiji from 28th January till 12th March. This was supported by Australia, in particular the reference lab in Melbourne, which continues to provide guidance and technical advice to our local experts at the Fiji Centre for Disease Control (CDC).
Fiji commenced testing for COVID-19 locally at the Fiji CDC from 11th March 2020 using molecular-based Real-time Quantitative Reverse Transcription PCR testing. This is a globally recognized and approved standard of testing for this virus. The testing capacity was further enhanced with the introduction of GeneXpert testing, also a molecular-based test, but results can be available under one hour.
Real-time RT–PCR is one of the most accurate and widely used laboratory methods for detecting COVID-19 worldwide. Trained health staff administer the test by collecting a sample using a nasal swab.
A: Currently, the only reliable and valid tests for COVID-19 in Fiji are conducted at Government facilities. Samples may be taken by a private doctor, however, all specimens (samples) are sent to the Fiji Centre for Disease Control (CDC) for analysis. The CDC will only accept tests for those who meet the criteria for testing.
COVID tests conducted in Fiji for medical purposes are completely free: for returning citizens in quarantine; for Fijians who meet our medical testing criteria, such as those displaying COVID-like symptoms; and for healthcare staff.
For non-citizens entering Fiji, and for people traveling out of Fiji who need to be tested as a requirement for entry into other countries, there is a $300 fee for a COVID-19 swab, payable after approval is granted.

People traveling out of the country will have to apply for a COVID-19 swab test. Approval will be through the Office of the Permanent Secretary for Health and Medical Services. These travelers will have to produce their travel itinerary and the biodata page of their passport to confirm they will be traveling before the test approval is granted. Fees can be paid at the following locations:

● Central – Cashier at MOHMS Headquarters (Level 1, Dinem House, 88 Amy Street, Toorak)
● Western – Cashier at Lautoka Hospital
● Northern – Cashier at Labasa Hospital

All approved applicants who have paid the fees will then be required to go to any one of the following facilities to have their swabs taken:
● Suva Health Office, Namosi House
● Nadi Hospital
● Lautoka Hospital
● Labasa Hospital

The swabs will then be sent to the Fiji Centre for Communicable Diseases for testing. Test results will be provided within 48 hours after the swabbing.

Public Health Response and Current Situation

A: Fiji’s first person confirmed with COVID-19 tested positive for the virus on March 19, 2020. Since April 10th, the only individuals in the country that have tested positive for the virus have been in the Government-managed border quarantine facilities. They have then been placed in isolation where they remain until their results are negative from two COVID-19 tests. For the most up-to-date information on the number of people confirmed to have COVID-19 in Fiji, go to COVID-19 Updates.
A: Fiji has in place a highly effective quarantine system for ALL arrivals into the country that includes 14 days of mandatory quarantine together with negative testing required for release. This is to ensure that those entering Fiji present a minimal risk of community virus introduction and transmission. In addition, Fiji has a robust nationwide disease surveillance and response Public Health system including contact tracing of all people who have been in contact with someone confirmed to have the virus, and COVID-19 laboratory testing systems that provide early warning and rapid identification of people who potentially could have COVID-19.
A: Yes – there are still some restrictions in relation to COVID-19 in Fiji. Fiji still has a curfew from 11pm till 4am every day. This curfew is strictly monitored by the Fiji Police Force and persons without a valid reason seen outside their homes during the curfew hours will be arrested. Arrested persons are liable to a fine and even imprisonment.
A: Isolation separates sick people with the disease from people who are not sick.
Quarantine separates people who are well but may have been exposed to the virus to see if they become sick.
A: An isolation centre is used to separate sick individuals from other, uninfected people. At the isolation centre, generally a dedicated ward at a hospital, the patient will be isolated from other patients and will be provided with appropriate medical care. Health care workers will be provided appropriate protective equipment to help protect them from the virus, whilst providing care to the patient.
A: People confirmed to have COVID-19 but are determined as low risk and display mild symptoms may be transferred to a community isolation facility. The aim of these facilities is to free up hospitals that may be dealing with more serious cases. This is a precautionary measure that helps reduce the risk of a contagious disease spreading. Patients will be restricted to the isolation facility until they are fully recovered from the virus, then they will be cleared and allowed to re-enter the community. Although arrangements have been made for such facilities, to date none have been used in Fiji. MoHMS still maintains a number of these facilities as a surge capacity response if required.
A: During the pandemic, public health workers follow up with and interview people who have COVID-19 and their contacts. Contact tracing slows the spread of COVID-19. If you have been in close contact with a person who has COVID-19, a public health worker may call to let you know you’ve been exposed and ask you to stay at home and self-quarantine. Doing so keeps you, your family, and your community safe.
A: careFIJI is a mobile application (app) by the Fijian Government under the digitalFIJI initiative to assist the Ministry of Health and Medical Services to streamline and speed up its manual contact tracing efforts. To help speed up contact tracing, we recommend that all people in Fiji download the careFIJI app and keep your Bluetooth turned on. For more information and to download the app, visit www.carefiji.digitalfiji.gov.fj
A: Yes. Fiji currently does not have any local transmissions and all remaining persons with COVID-19 are considered border quarantine cases. For more details, go to COVID-19 Updates.
A: Yes. The likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low and the risk of catching the virus that causes COVID-19 from a package that has been moved, traveled, and exposed to different conditions and temperature is also low.

Quarantine

A: A quarantine is a restriction on the movement of people, which is intended to prevent the spread of disease. It is used to prevent the movement of those who may have been exposed to a communicable disease but who do not have a confirmed medical diagnosis.
A: Every person who arrives in Fiji must be isolated from other people in Fiji for a minimum period of 14 days. They must then test negative for COVID-19 before they can go into the community and their respective homes. The process to manage this is known as border quarantine.
A: Currently, all persons entering Fiji must undergo 14-days of quarantine to minimise the threat of COVID-19 re-entering the country. They must then test negative for COVID-19 before they can go into the community and their respective homes.
A: For the most up-to-date information on Fiji’s quarantine guidelines, see Fiji-COVID-19-Border-Control-Measures
A medical certification upon completing the 14-days quarantine will be provided from the quarantine facility after a person has completed the mandatory 14 days and has had a negative COVID-19 test.

Travel

A: Members of the public, especially individuals who are planning to travel abroad, are recommended to check the Fijian MoHMS and WHO website for the latest updates on the situation in Fiji and globally, and also check the health authority websites of countries you are planning to travel to. The COVID-19 pandemic is active across the world and the determination to travel if possible is an individual decision.

A: If you were in any other country affected by COVID-19, and within 14 days of your return to Fiji, feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, you should:
● Seek medical advice – Go to a Fever-Clinic near you. Tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.
● Avoid contact with others.
● Not travel while sick.
● Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
● Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds to avoid spreading the virus to others.
● Wash your hands with soap and water immediately after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose. If soap and water are not readily available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
The Ministry of Health and Medical Services will continue to monitor the developing situation and adapt our advice accordingly.

There are currently no restrictions on inter-island travel
Documented proof of a negative Covid-19 test is required for all foreign nationals seeking to enter Fiji. Fijian citizens departing countries determined as a high risk for COVID-19 may also need to be tested before departure. For more information see Entry Requirements for Fiji.