PRESS RELEASE

COVID-19 Update – 15-11-2021

Last Updated on 3 weeks by Publishing Team

Transmission Update:

Since the last update, we have recorded a total of 32 new cases; of which 7 new cases were recorded on 13/11/2021, 5 new cases were recorded on 14/11/2021 and 20 new cases in the last 24 hours ending at 8 am this morning.

This epidemic curve depicts the daily positive cases since the 2nd wave of this outbreak began in April 2021. Overall for this 2nd wave, there have been 52,359 cases recorded, with 71% of the cases from the Central Division, 28% of the cases from the Western Division, and 1% of the cases from the Eastern and Northern Division. 

Our National 7- day rolling average is 19 daily cases calculated for 11th November 2021.

Deaths:

This curve depicts the weekly death rate per 1000 population by divisions since the 2nd wave of this outbreak began in April 2021. Overall the death rate graphs for the Central and Western Divisions indicate a declining trend. The differences between the Central and Western are similar to the incidence of the weekly cases and are likely a reflection of vaccination levels, COVID mitigation measures, and differences in population density.

We have additional 14 COVID-19 deaths to report between the period 6th August 2021- 19th September 2021. All deaths were reported from the Western Division. An analysis of the 14 deaths has highlighted that individuals were aged between 46 to 84 years, 57% (n=8) were males, 42% (n=6) of the individuals died at home or on their way to the hospital. None of the deaths were vaccinated. This means they did not receive any dose of the COVID-19 Vaccine.

There have been 694 deaths due to COVID-19 in Fiji, with 692 of these deaths during the outbreak that started in April this year. Please note that due to the time required by clinical teams to investigate, classify and report deaths, a 4-day interval is given to calculate the 7 days rolling average of deaths, based on the date of death, to help ensure the data collected is complete before the average is reported. Therefore, as of November 11th, the national 7 days rolling average for COVID-19 deaths per day is 0.0, with a case fatality rate of 1.32%.

We have recorded 588 COVID-19 positive patients who died from serious medical conditions they had before they contracted COVID-19; these are not classified as COVID-19 deaths.

Epidemic Outlook:

The Ministry of Health continues to monitor the outbreak using indicators such as daily case numbers, hospitalizations, test positivity, and deaths. There is a downward trend across all indicators of the COVID-19 epidemic in Fiji, indicating a positive response to our overall COVID containment and mitigation response.

With borders opening soon, we anticipate our testing numbers to increase from local and international repatriates as well as visitors entering the country.

Occupancy rates in health facilities, the occupancy rate of ICU beds, death rates, and vaccination coverage are indicators to monitor our health response capacity and we see a decreasing trend across indicators from our health facilities with increasing vaccination coverage for adults and 15-17-year-olds in Fiji.

Our weekly testing numbers of over 5,000 are still above the WHO recommended rate of 4 tests per 1,000 population per week (or approx. 3,500 tests per week) and we anticipate continued surveillance and testing in our communities and maritime islands to monitor and detect cases for early intervention.

Public Advisory:

Changes to Curfew Hours

The Ministry of Health and Medical Services had expected to fully vaccinate 90% of the eligible adult population in Fiji by 13 November 2021. Pending confirmation of the 90% threshold, the curfew hours were to move to 12 am – 4 am from Sunday 14 November 2021.

Unfortunately, logistical issues posed challenges in vaccinating the remaining 10% of vaccine-eligible adults. The MHMS expectation of reaching 90% was not achieved over the weekend.  We will continue our vaccination efforts from tomorrow onwards and review the data mid-week. Curfew hours will remain from 11 pm – 4 am.

Quarantine-free Domestic Travel

Given the improvement in vaccination coverage, all quarantine measures are lifted for domestic travel. This means registration and travel passes are no longer required. We are now transitioning into COVID-19 risk reduction protocols for domestic travel. This means that travel is restricted to fully vaccinated individuals with strict compliance to passenger capacity of 50% in vessels servicing to and from Vanua Levu and the maritime islands, together with the stringent application of COVID-19 safety measures.

The responsibility for ensuring the above restrictions will be with shipping owners. Our border health teams will continue to monitor the oversight provided by the shipping companies and ensure that COVID-19 safety measures are followed and travel guidelines are adhered to.

Low Vaccination Areas (<60%)

In the maritime islands with low vaccination coverage, the public is advised to adhere strictly to the COVID-19 safety measures of social distancing, hand washing, and appropriate masking to mitigate the risks of community transmission. A 7-day quarantine period will be instituted for all travelers into these pockets of communities with low vaccination coverage rates. The quarantine requirement for low coverage areas will be further assessed once vaccination coverage rates have improved.

Low vaccination areas can be viewed at the following link: https://bit.ly/3ln8jqx

MHMS Preparedness and Response Plans for Future Surges

The Ministry of Health & Medical Services has escalated preparedness and response plans to mitigate against and manage surges in cases through:

  1.     Early warning system set up in all maritime islands and oversight in place to ensure 100% weekly reporting of Acute respiratory illness and Febrile illness from all facilities
  2.     Prepositioning of Air, Land, and Sea-based capability to facilitate retrieval of cases within Vanua Levu and from Maritime Islands to sub-divisional and divisional hospitals
  3.     The clinical capability has been escalated in health centers and nursing stations to facilitate early diagnosis, monitoring, and referral of sentinel cases.
  4.     Testing capacity has been escalated in Viti Levu to support travel to the North and Maritime islands
  5.     Clinical Care capability in the 3 divisional hospitals have been escalated
  6.     Reviewing and strengthening clinical care protocols for severe disease in all sub-divisional and divisional hospitals.