PRESS RELEASE

STATEMENT FROM THE MINISTRY OF HEALTH ON COVID-19 UPDATE

The Ministry of Health and Medical Services is announcing 3 new border quarantine cases of COVID-19.

The first two border quarantine cases are a 69-year-old female and a 39-year-old female who travelled to Fiji from California in the USA, arriving on flight FJ1813 from Los Angeles on March 1st. Both currently have no symptoms. One of the individuals had returned a weak positive result and is considered a historical case. Both have been transferred to the isolation ward at Lautoka hospital according to the standard protocol for positive cases.

The third border quarantine case is a 44-year-old male who arrived in Fiji on a yacht on March 6, the last port of call was Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. He returned a weak positive test result upon routine testing while undergoing the standard 14-day quarantine on board the vessel in the quarantine mooring, in accordance with the Blue Lanes initiative. A weak positive result indicates that there was little viral material in the sample, which also may not be viable. It is known that non-infectious fragments of the virus can remain detectable, and cause a positive test result long after the infection has passed, and even after previous negative test results; the person also has no symptoms and tested negative during pre-departure testing in Port Moresby. It is unlikely that this person is currently infectious. Therefore, this is considered a historical case of COVID-19. However, he has been transferred to the isolation ward at Lautoka hospital, and management of this case will follow our standard protocol for positive cases.

Also, following the protocols of the Blue Lanes initiative, the Fiji Navy tracked the yacht this individual arrived on as soon as it entered Fijian waters. The yacht did not stop at any other island in Fiji before arriving at the quarantine mooring at Denarau. This is the first positive case on a yacht arriving through the Blue Lanes initiative – 107 yachts have arrived in Fiji via the Blue Lanes since the initiative started last year. All onboard this yacht will complete 14 days quarantine, and return at least 2 negative test results before they will be released to enter Fiji.

Since our first case was reported on March 19, 2020, Fiji has now had 66 cases, with 7 active cases currently admitted at the Lautoka hospital isolation ward, there have been 57 recoveries (2 new recoveries since the last update) and 2 deaths. The last 48 cases have been international travel-associated cases detected in border quarantine. It has been 324 days since the last case was detected outside border quarantine on April 18, 2020.

A total of 32,164 laboratory tests have been conducted, with a daily average of 239 tests per day over the last 7 days, and a weekly average of 1476 tests per week over the last 2 weeks.

For more information on COVID-19 please visit the Ministry of Health and Medical Services web page http://www.health.gov.fj/covid-19-updates/

The next scheduled update will be on Wednesday 10 March.