PRESS RELEASE

COVID-19 Update – 19-08-2021

Last Updated on 2 months by Publishing Team

Media Release

COVID-19 Daily Update

Thursday, 19 August 2021

Transmission Update

We have 781 new cases of COVID-19 to report for the 24 hour period that ended at 8am today. 626 cases are from the Western Division, 154 cases are from the Central Division and 1 case from the Eastern Division. A full breakdown of areas of interest will be published online tonight on the Ministry’s COVID-19 dashboard. You will also be able to view the approximate locations of new cases, active cases, and recovered cases on the dashboard at the following link: http://bit.ly/3vE2ZBb.

There have been 862 new recoveries reported since the last update, which means that there are now 21,211 active cases. 12,940 active cases are in the Central Division, 8270 active cases in the Western Division and 1 active case in the Northern Division. Please note that the 2 repatriation cases from Suva who tested positive in a repatriation quarantine facility in the Northern Division, and announced yesterday, are not active cases, as they had previously tested positive in Suva, were counted in Central cases, and recovered, before travelling North.

We are currently reviewing and reconciling our active case database with recoveries and as a result we expect the recovery numbers to increase in the coming weeks.

There have been 42,541 cases during the outbreak that started in April 2021. We have recorded a total of 42,611 cases in Fiji since the first case was reported in March 2020, with 20,677 recoveries.

Deaths

We have 8 new COVID-19 deaths to report for the period of August 15th-19th. 6 deaths were reported from the Central Division and 2 deaths were reported from the Western Division.

The first COVID-19 death to report is a 77 year old man from Nakasi who died at home on the 17/08/2021. He was not vaccinated.

The second COVID-19 death to report is a 63 year old man from Vatuwaqa who died at home on the 17/08/2021. He was not vaccinated.

The third COVID-19 death to report is an 88 year old man from Ba. He presented to the Ba Mission Hospital in severe respiratory distress. His family reported that he had a history of fever, cough and shortness of breath one week prior to presentation. He died one day after admission (18/08/2021). He was not vaccinated.

The fourth COVID-19 death to report is a 54 year old man from Suva. He presented to the CWM Hospital in severe respiratory distress. He died eleven days after admission (19/08/2021). He was not vaccinated.

The fifth COVID-19 death to report is a 60 year old woman from Navua who died at home on the 15/08/2021. She was not vaccinated.

The sixth COVID-19 death to report is a 58 year old woman from Naitasiri who died at home on the 16/08/2021. She was not vaccinated.

The seventh COVID-19 death to report is a 78 year old woman from Sigatoka who died at home on the 18/08/2021. She was not vaccinated.

The eighth COVID-19 death to report is an 89 year old man from Suva. He was declared dead on arrival by the attending medical officer at the CWM Hospital emergency department (19/07/2021). This means that he either died at home or on his way to the hospital. He was not vaccinated. The announcement of this death was delayed as it was under investigation by the forensic unit of the Fiji Police Force.

As highlighted in the Statement from the Permanent Secretary earlier today: One death from the Eastern Division is currently under investigation. This is a 63 year old woman from Rakiraki Village, in Yale, Kadavu who was declared dead on arrival by the attending medical officer at the Vunisea Hospital in Kadavu on 17/08/2021. This means she died at home or on the way to hospital. Her family reported that she had symptoms of cough, fever and shortness of breath. She was swabbed as per protocol and tested positive for COVID-19. She was not vaccinated. This death is currently classified as under investigation while awaiting investigation and issuance of a death certificate by the medical team.  Early investigations have indicated that she had contact with individuals who travelled unauthorized from Suva to Kadavu. A response team is currently onsite investigating the case and conducting public health investigations with testing and quarantine of contacts.

There have been 3 more deaths of COVID-19 positive patients. However, these deaths have been classified as non-COVID deaths by their doctors. Doctors have determined that their deaths were caused by serious pre-existing medical conditions and not COVID-19.

With today’s newly reported deaths, there have now been 421 deaths due to COVID-19 in Fiji, with 419 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, at least a 4 day interval will be given to calculate the 7 day rolling average of deaths, based on date of death, in order to help ensure the data collected is complete before the average is reported. Therefore, as of August 15th, the national 7 day rolling average of COVID-19 deaths per day is 11. The 7 day rolling average for COVID-19 deaths per day in the Central Division is 5 and in the Western Division is 6.

We also have recorded 233 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. As mentioned earlier, there is 1 death from the Eastern Division currently under investigation.

Hospitalisations

There are currently 314 COVID-19 patients admitted to hospital. 119 patients are admitted to the Lautoka Hospital, 37 patients are admitted at the FEMAT field hospital, and 158 admitted at CWM hospital, St Giles, and Makoi. 45 patients are considered to be in severe condition, and 9 are in critical condition.

Screening Update

A total of 6,653 individuals were screened and 2,261 swabbed at our stationary screening clinics in the last 24 hours, bringing our cumulative total to 473,045 individuals screened and 83,461 swabbed to date. As of the 18th August our mobile screening teams screened a total of 2,135 individuals and swabbed 71. This brings our cumulative total to 794,488 individuals screened and 70,361 swabbed by our mobile teams.

Testing update

A total of 313,142 samples have been tested since this outbreak started in April 2021, with 356,003 tested since testing began in March 2020. 1400 tests have been reported for August 18th. The 7-day daily test average is 1462 tests per day or 1.7 tests per 1,000 population. The national 7-day average daily test positivity is 38%.

Vaccination Update

As of the 18th August 539,555 adults in Fiji have received their first dose of the vaccine and 223,987 have received their second doses. This means that 92% of the target population have received at least one dose and 38.2% are now fully vaccinated nationwide. We are currently doing a mop up exercise of our first dose campaign, which will allow us to specifically target specific communities with low coverage, and subsequently also correct and update the total eligible population for our current vaccination program.

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. You can access the live dashboard at http://bit.ly/3h2JfCZ

Epidemic Outlook

The 7-day average of new cases per day is 543 cases per day or 613 cases per million population per day. We have noted a drop in cases reported per day recently. However, our daily testing numbers have also been dropping around the same time, due to the change in testing policy in Suva-Nausori. As announced on July 21st by the Permanent Secretary, only persons that have a higher risk of developing severe COVID-19 are being targeted for testing in Suva-Nausori. This was done so that resources could be targeted to early detection, monitoring and care of persons with COVID-19 who are at higher risk of severe disease, to prevent more people succumbing to severe disease and death.

We are likely seeing the effect of this testing policy change now in Suva-Nausori with the drop in daily reported cases. This does not mean that the outbreak is on a downward trend in the Suva-Nausori community. As previously announced by the Permanent Secretary, daily case numbers in Suva-Nausori are currently not being used as an indicator to monitor progress of the outbreak in Suva-Nausori. The Ministry is closely monitoring other indicators such as test positivity, hospitalisations and deaths to track the progress of the outbreak in Suva-Nausori.

We are seeing increasing cases reported in the Western Division with evidence of widespread community transmission in that division.  Deaths per day at a 7 day average in the Western Division now surpass the Central Division.

The Northern Division has 1 active case, and the Eastern Division has 0 active cases reported. Swabbing of contacts of the COVID-19 positive person who died in Kadavu was conducted today and the public will be updated once test results are available.

Advice to the public

Update on investigations in the Northern division

Today is day 3 of the containment zone in Nabouwalu. Day 4 tests for all except 2 primary contacts of the case reported from Nabouwalu  have returned negative. Results of the remaining 2 primary contacts are pending. Meanwhile, the health service set up at the Immaculate Junior Secondary School is working well. Health teams from Labasa Hospital are travelling daily to Bua Nursing Station and Lekutu Health Centre to provide health services to the community outside the containment zone. And border controls at Nabouwalu and all other Northern ports have been reinforced.

Activities that will be carried out inside the Nabouwalu containment zone include:

  1. 3 phases of screening and swabbing for the containment zone population. In the first phase of screening, 367 persons were swabbed. All have tested negative. A second round of swabbing for 217 people has been conducted with results pending.
  2. Daily symptoms checks and swabbing
  3. House to house covid safe awareness program
  4. Vaccination for target population in containment zone area

Over 1000 swabs have also been collected for people outside the containment zone in the villages of Nasavu, Naviqiri, and Nawailevu.

Update on investigations in Kadavu

As regards to  the case reported from Rakiraki Village in Yale, Kadavu,  given the clinical details of the case, and link to persons known to have illegally travelled between Suva and Kadavu,  we have to assume there is community transmission on the island of Kadavu. To help with our public health containment measures we are suspending shipping services to Kadavu for a week starting today (19th of August to the 26th of August 2021).

There will also be a 14 day containment zone established for the Gasele Nursing Zone in Kadavu. This is to localize the disease to the nursing zone area for one incubation period of 14 days and to monitor incidence and disease trend in the lockdown area within this period. The following will occur within the containment zone:

  1. Movement between the 7 villages in the containment zone is to be restricted to reduce further spread
  2. Home quarantine of the primary contacts will be enforced
  3. Contact tracing of primary contacts and secondary contacts will continue
  4. The identification and monitoring of vulnerable persons will be initiated and strengthened
  5. Community  engagement program will be escalated to foster covid safe behaviour with specific focus on protecting the vulnerable persons
  6. Continue vaccination education and rollout will be escalated and targeted to vulnerable persons

Further to this a clinical scouting team will be deployed over the weekend to Vunisea to map out a plan to escalate clinical care capability and strengthen care access especially to the identified vulnerable persons.

The Ministry of Health and Medical Services reiterates its call for maritime islanders to not engage in unauthorised travel to and from Viti Levu. All our current protocols to regulate domestic movements must be adhered to in order to prevent spread of the virus beyond Viti Levu. Furthermore, we repeat our call to all village leaders and elders to support our current efforts to protect our maritime islands and to immediately report any suspicious movements into your community.