COVID-19 Update – 15-10-2021
Last Updated on 1 year by Publishing Team
As previously mentioned, given that dose one is beyond 95%, a verification exercise for dose one is ongoing which may result in minor changes. The dose one coverage rate has been adjusted today to reflect our verification process.
The 7-day average of new cases per day is 39 cases per day or 49 cases per million population per day. As previously announced by the Permanent Secretary, the daily case numbers are currently not being used as the sole indicator to monitor the progress of the outbreak. The Ministry continues monitoring other indicators such as test positivity, hospitalisations, and deaths to track the progress of the outbreak, and it is noted that there is a downward trend across all indicators of the COVID-19 epidemic in Fiji.
With the reduction in testing numbers, which is above the WHO recommended rate of 4 tests per 1,000 population per week (or approx. 3,500 tests per week), we are transitioning community surveillance testing to containment phase levels.
The overall indications of the cases, hospitalization, and deaths data indicate a positive response to our overall COVID response with the epidemic in the west having a lower and delayed disease peak with lower cumulative numbers compared to the Central Division.
It has been 6 months since the outbreak started in Viti Levu. Within Viti Levu, the outbreak was limited to the Lami to Nausori containment area long enough to escalate vaccination and clinical response capacity outside the containment area. This contributed to a lower peak and the total number of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths outside the containment area within Viti Levu. In Vanua Levu, we have also succeeded in preventing community transmission long enough for eligible persons to get the opportunity to be vaccinated. We are now relaxing entry requirements into Vanua Levu with travelers getting more access to being able to quarantine at home and including rapid antigen tests in the pre-departure testing schedule. This will allow residents of Vanua Levu who have been stuck in Viti Levu for over 6 months, to return home. The new protocols for local repatriation travel to Vanua Levu will be uploaded on the Ministry of Health and Medical Services Website today. We also will be normalizing movement between Viti Levu and Vanua Levu once the second dose vaccine coverage in Vanua Levu is at an overall 80 percent of adults. The current coverage rates for the North are 91% for dose one and 70.4% for dose 2.
The Ministry of Health and Medical Services in preparation for easing of restrictions in the North has remodeled the health service provision to ensure:
- Strengthened quarantine capacity. We have a registration and pass issuance process that will facilitate our ability to maintain oversight over both home and facility-based quarantine. Each traveler will be provided with the rules relating to quarantine and punitive measures will be applied if there is a verified breach in any of the quarantine conditions.
- Community surveillance through test trace and track protocols is being escalated to help us identify and contain any outbreak early.
- Registration and line listing of vulnerable persons especially in poorly vaccinated areas has been done;
- Preparations for the monitoring of positive cases and vulnerable persons to ensure better access to appropriate care plans has been made;
- Clinical care protocols for the severe disease has been reviewed and strengthened;
The Ministry of Health and Medical Services Communication team together with our multi-agency community engagement team are working with community leaders to identify and strengthen mechanisms that will facilitate the monitoring of vulnerable persons and persons with covid like symptoms and help encourage them toward timely engagement of health care services so that medical teams have a greater opportunity to provide timely treatment.
The easing of travel restrictions is needed to facilitate social and economic livelihood especially given that too many people have been stuck away from their homes since April this year. However, even with the precautions that have been put in place with this relaxation of the re-entry protocols, we do expect cases to occur in the community of the Northern Division with the movement of people from Viti Levu. The key is for this movement to be into a highly vaccinated population in the North as the vaccines are very good at preventing severe disease and death. The expectation is that the North will report cases in the community, but large numbers of people with severe disease will be prevented because of high vaccination coverage.
The people of the North are reminded that, together with vaccination, we must continue to closely observe our COVID safe measures and avoid contained spaces and crowds to avoid the risk of increased spread of the virus. The key to avoiding future restrictions and lockdowns is for the public to remain cautious about how they engage in the greater freedom they will enjoy.