PRESS RELEASE

COVID-19 Update – 17-09-2021

Last Updated on 1 month by Publishing Team

Media Release

COVID-19 Daily Update

Friday, 17th September 2021

Transmission Update

We have 132 new cases of COVID-19 to report for the 24 hour period that ended at 8 am today. 36 cases are from the Western Division, 95 cases are from the Central Division and 1 case is from the Eastern Division.

There have been 233 new recoveries to report since the last update, which means that there are now 12,834 active cases. 1,185 active cases are in the Central Division, 11,343 active cases in the Western Division, 1 active case in the Northern Division (Macuata), and 305 active cases in the Eastern Division (all in Kadavu).

There have been 49,649 cases during the outbreak that started in April 2021. We have recorded a total of 49,719 cases in Fiji since the first case was reported in March 2020, with 35,919 recoveries. We are currently reviewing and reconciling our active case database with deaths and recoveries and as a result, we expect the death and recovery numbers to intermittently change as verifications are made.

Deaths

We have 3 new COVID-19 deaths to report for the period of 09th-15th September 2021. All deaths were reported from the Western Division.

The first COVID-19 death to report is a 56-year-old man from Tavua who died at home on 11/09/2021. He received the first dose of the vaccine in mid-July. He did not receive the second dose of the vaccine. This means that he was not fully vaccinated.

The second COVID-19 death to report is a 75-year-old man from Tavua. He presented to the Tavua Hospital in severe respiratory distress. Sadly, he died two days after admission on 09/09/2021. He was not vaccinated.

The third COVID-19 death to report is a 48-year-old man from Tavua. He presented to the Tavua Hospital in severe respiratory distress. Sadly, he died on the same day (15/09/2021). He was not vaccinated.

As mentioned above and following further review, we have an additional nineteen COVID-19 deaths to report for the period of 03rd July 2021- 11th August 2021. All these deaths were reported from the Central Division. An analysis of the nineteen deaths have highlighted that individuals were aged between 43 to 94 years, 58% (n=11) were males, 84% (n=16) of the individuals died at home or on their way to the hospital and 89.5% (n=17) of these deaths were unvaccinated, the remaining 10.5% (n=2) received only one dose of the vaccine. This means that there were no deaths of individuals who were fully vaccinated.

There have also been 21 more deaths of COVID-19 positive patients. However, these deaths have been classified as non-COVID deaths by their doctors. The doctors have determined that these deaths were caused by serious pre-existing medical conditions and not COVID-19.

There have now been 566 deaths due to COVID-19 in Fiji, with 564 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 day 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 September 12th, the national 7 day rolling average of COVID-19 deaths per day is 1.7. The 7 day rolling average for COVID-19 deaths per day in the Central Division is 1 and in the Western Division is 0.7.

We also have recorded 400 COVID-19 positive patients who died from the serious medical conditions that they had before they contracted COVID-19; these are not classified as COVID-19 deaths.

Hospitalisations

There are currently 114 COVID-19 patients admitted to the hospital. 35 patients are admitted at the Lautoka Hospital, 3 patients are admitted at the FEMAT field hospital, and 76 are admitted at CWM hospital, St Giles, and Makoi. 8 patients are considered to be in severe condition, and 3 are in critical condition.

Screening Update

A total of 10,095 individuals were screened and 488 swabbed at our stationary screening clinics in the last 24 hours, bringing our cumulative total to 612,501 individuals screened and 96,648 swabbed to date. Our mobile screening teams screened a total of 2,043 individuals and swabbed 201. This brings our cumulative total to 836,842 individuals screened and 75,199 swabbed by our mobile teams.

Testing Update

A total of 354,153 samples have been tested since this outbreak started in April 2021, with 397,014 tested since testing began in March 2020. 1,510 tests have been reported for September 16th. The 7-day daily test average is 1,251 tests per day or 1.4 tests per 1,000 population. Weekly testing is at 8 tests per 1000 population, which remains above the WHO recommended level of 4 per 1000 population per week. The national 7-day average daily test positivity is 12.2%, which is on a downward trend but still indicating a high level of community transmission.

Vaccination Update 

To date, 584,096 adults in Fiji have received their first dose of the vaccine and 381,209 have received their second doses. This means that 97.8% of the target population have received at least one dose and 65% are now fully vaccinated nationwide.

Fijians can check the Ministry’s vaccine dashboard to find real-time data on first-dose and second-dose numbers at the national, divisional, and sub-divisional levels.

Epidemic Outlook

The 7-day average of new cases per day is 143 cases per day or 162 cases per million population per day. As previously announced by the Permanent Secretary, daily case numbers in Suva-Nausori are currently not being used as the sole indicator to monitor the progress of the outbreak. The Ministry is closely monitoring other indicators such as test positivity, hospitalisations, and deaths to track the progress of the outbreak.

With the decrease in testing numbers, testing remains above the WHO recommended rate of 4 per 1000 population per week (or approx. 3500 tests per week). We will be transitioning to community surveillance testing as severe disease numbers and positivity rates approach the containment phase levels.

31 new cases were recorded in Kadavu in the last 24 hours bringing the total number of cases to 521. Twelve patients are currently admitted at Vunisea hospital, of which 7 are COVID positive and currently in stable condition, and 5 are negative for COVID-19. Mobile outreach teams continue with their visits to villages and settlements carrying out a follow-up of primary contacts, monitoring of positive patients and clearance, roll out of COVID-19 vaccination, MCH clinic, and immunization of babies, GOPD consultation, and SOPD clinic with medicine replenishment. Medical education sessions were conducted for the Vunisea health team. A clinical outreach team conducted clinics at Ravitaki nursing station. Movement restrictions remain in force supervised by the Police team and the Vanua.

No new cases have been reported for Malolo Island in the last 24 hours. 44 individuals have recovered and 19 remain active cases. Daily assessment continues for the active cases and their contacts. Six high-risk cases are stable and remain in home isolation. The health team visited Mana Island and conducted screening and awareness sessions. Movement restrictions remain in force for all villages on Malolo Island.

Five new cases have been reported on Naviti Island in the last 24 hours. Of the total of 143 cases on the island, 80 individuals have recovered while 63 cases remain active and under surveillance by the health team. Movement restrictions are in place for all villages.

No new cases were recorded on Waya Island in the last 24 hours. 25 individuals remain as active cases and under home isolation in their villages with a daily assessment conducted by the Yalobi nursing station health team. The island is still under strict movement restrictions.

Two new cases were diagnosed in Nacula village on Nacula Island in the last 24 hours bringing the total number of cases on the island to 29. The positive cases are under isolation in their respective villages and monitored daily by the health team from Nacula health center. The other 4 villages and one settlement on the island have not recorded any positive cases to date. Strict movement restriction remains in place for the whole island.

Beqa Island has recorded 44 new cases in the last 24 hours. This brings the total number of cases to 162, of which 161 are active cases and are on daily monitoring by the health team. 168 swab tests were done in the last 24 hours, and education and awareness on COVID safe measures and vaccination continue for the villagers on the island. Movement restriction remains in force for the whole island.

Public Updates and Advice:

The Opening of Local Borders

With the opening of all local borders in Viti Levu, the Ministry considers the local repatriation of citizens to their homes as an important part of the COVID-19 operations. Hence, we have established quarantine corridors to facilitate the safe local repatriation of our citizens. To date, none of the repatriations that have gone through our quarantine corridor has resulted in viral spread into the community. The current outbreaks in a number of our maritime communities have been caused by individuals undertaking unauthorized travel that have bypassed our COVID safe protocols.

Therefore, over the coming weeks, we will increase our capability to facilitate repatriation by the creation of safe and secure quarantine corridors that will mitigate the infection risks associated with unregulated travel. Community support towards these quarantine corridor protocols will greatly assist in ensuring that the risk of unregulated travel into communities unaffected by the virus to date remains minimal. With the additional capability, we hope to improve on the current rate of local repatriation without compromising the safety and health status of the destination communities.

We also remind all communities that the threat of community transmission is always real, and is higher with unregulated travel. With a high vaccination rate and with strict adherence to covid safe measures, the potential for transmission in a community will be slower and the ability to contain the outbreak, better. Therefore, we encourage everyone to become fully vaccinated and to continue to practice COVID safe measures at all times.

For those wishing to sell produce along with Queens and Kings, we expect vendors and travelers to be fully vaccinated, wear masks appropriately at all times, and practice hand hygiene. The exchange of goods and money needs to follow protocols provided by the Ministry of Health and Medical Services. Soon, we will publish the vaccination rates of all areas along the King and Queen’s highways and other major routes so that travelers know which areas are safest to stop to take a rest, fill in fuel, buy vegetables, coconuts to drink, or hot corn or BBQ to eat. Everyone should read that list carefully before getting in their vehicle and heading anywhere on Viti Levu. Our advice is to avoid areas with lower vaccination coverage.

Vaccination of Eligible Children

Vaccination of eligible children aged 15 to 17 years with the Moderna vaccine from Monday 20th September 2021. Online registration is open and parents are encouraged to register their children before vaccination. Parental or guardian consent is mandatory before vaccination. No vaccine will be given without the consent of parents or guardians.

Vaccination for children aged 12 to 17 years is safe. Similar to adults, children can also experience the side effects of COVID-19 vaccination such as pain, swelling at the jab site, fever, and body aches. These symptoms should subside over a few days. Severe side effects are rare and the risk of getting a severe infection and succumbing to COVID-19 is still higher than the risk of adverse events from vaccination. Therefore, parents and guardians are encouraged to agree for their children to be vaccinated to protect them from COVID-19.