Last Updated on 3 months by Publishing Team

PR 02/2024 

Ministry of Health Addresses COVID-19 JN.1 Sub-variant and Reinforces Protective Measures

January 5th, 2024

The Ministry of Health & Medical Services (MHMS) in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) is closely monitoring the emergence of the COVID-19 JN.1 sub-variant as reported in other countries. While there is currently no evidence to suggest there is increased transmissibility or severity of disease caused by the JN.1 variant compared to other circulating variants, we are taking proactive measures to ensure that the public remain vigilant and take appropriate measures to protect themselves and those around them.

The Ministry has scaled up surveillance through our EWARS syndromic surveillance system, and through laboratory investigations at the Fiji Centre for Disease Control (Fiji CDC) and at major hospitals around the country. As such, testing kits have been distributed to the CDC labs in Nadi and Suva, and all Divisional Hospitals around the country to boost the testing for suspected COVID cases presenting at the hospitals.

While cases of COVID-19 continue to be seen around the country to date, no rise in cases or admissions have been recorded. The Ministry has also not diagnosed the JN.1 variant from the COVID cases seen in the country to date.

Recommended key protective actions to take:

Members of the public are advised to take note of the following COVID-safe measures that will protect them from acquiring the disease, and suffering from severe COVID-19 disease.

  1. Personal Hygiene
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use an alcohol-based sanitizer
  1. Ventilation
  • Keep rooms well ventilated rooms by opening windows and doors whenever possible to reduce air borne transmission of infections
  1. Wearing a mask
  • Wear a well-fitting mask if you are experiencing COVID or flu like symptoms and when in indoor or public settings or when physical distancing is not possible
  • It is recommended to wear a mask if you are serving people who are showing COVID or flu like symptoms to avoid catching the virus
  • Travelers to countries that are experiencing a rise in COVID infections are encouraged to take and wear mask when moving about in these countries
  1. Isolation
  • Those who develop any COVID-19 symptoms are advised to visit their nearest health facility to get tested immediately and if positive, isolate at home for 5-days
  1. Vaccination
  • Ensure you are fully vaccinated with all recommended doses, including boosters, to provide the strongest protection against severe illness. Vaccines remain highly effective in preventing serious outcomes, even with new variants
  • COVID-19 vaccine is available for those who need primary doses (1st & 2nd) as well as booster doses

Booster doses for high priority groups

  • People in the high priority groups have the highest chance of becoming seriously ill or dying. Revaccination with booster doses is recommended only for persons in the high priority groups
  • Below are the latest recommendations for booster doses for high priority groups:
High priority group Recommended booster dose
·  Oldest adults (aged 75 years or older)

·  Older adults with comorbidities (60 to 75 years old)

·  Pregnant mothers

Should receive one additional booster dose 6 months after the last dose
·  Older adults (60 to 75 years)

·  Adults with comorbidities or severe obesity (18 to 59 years old)

·  First-line healthcare workers

Should receive one additional booster dose 12 months after the last dose

 

Vaccination sites – these vaccination sites are open on working days:

  • Central Division: Suva Health Centre
  • Western Division: Sigatoka Health Centre, Nadi Health Centre and Lautoka Health Centre
  • Northern Division: Labasa Health Centre

Furthermore, it is important for members of the public to note that January is the start of the Flu (influenza) season in Fiji, and it is anticipated that there will be an increase in the number in Flu cases from around the country in the months of January to March. The recommended protective measures above will also help to prevent you from contracting the flu, as well as prevent the spread of the flu virus to others.

In addition, the Ministry has made Flu vaccines available for the vulnerable population – the elderly, and pregnant mothers in any trimester of their pregnancy.

While the Ministry remains committed to providing updates and evidence-based guidance, we urge the public to continue practicing these simple yet effective measures to safeguard yourselves and your loved ones.

~ENDS~

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