COVID-19 Update – 19-11-2021
Last Updated on 1 year by Publishing Team
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. With the commencement of vaccination for 12-14-year-olds, we expect their coverage to contribute to reducing the risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death.
Our weekly testing numbers of over 4,000 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.
Changes to Curfew Hours
Curfew hours have been extended from 12am- 4am. The Ministry of Health and Medical Services wishes to thank the people of Fiji for having reached 90% vaccination coverage for vaccine-eligible adults. Our combined effort has enabled us to reach this milestone. We will continue our vaccination efforts to reach the rest of the vaccine-eligible population including the 12-14 and 15-17-year-olds.
Adverse Events Following Immunisation (AEFI)
Following concerns raised about vaccination safety, it is very important to understand what adverse events following immunization (AEFI) are and the management by MHMS should any such event arise.
An adverse event following immunizations (AEFI) is expected with the rolling out of any vaccine. As the COVID-19 vaccines rolled out in Fiji, the Ministry of Health and Medical Services included in its COVID-19 plans, preparation, and responses to any adverse events that may arise out of the vaccination roll-out.
An AEFI includes any unexpected medical event that any individual may experience following vaccination, which may or may not be related to the vaccine.
The MHMS has in place an AEFI investigation system comprising an AEFI officer with internal (Fiji) and external (international) panels that are responsible for receiving AEFI and investigating reported events. For milder cases, the AEFI officer also facilitates follow-up via multiple means (phone calls, Viber, Messenger, or emails).
Events requiring admission in the hospital and close follow-up are done with the medical teams in the hospital are assessed by the Fiji panel, who then document case details and verify important information before they are discussed with our international panel.
Fatal events may be assessed by post mortem. For COVID positive cases where a post mortem was not possible, the health team conducts a verbal autopsy process (internal & external panel) to confirm the cause of death.
A total of 64 AEFI was reported of which 55 AEFI (85.9%) are non-serious cases and 9 AEFI (14.0%) met serious cases criteria (cases that require hospital admission and reports of deaths post-vaccination). Analysis showed that 47 AEFIs (73.4%) were reported from the medical bay at the vaccination sites, while the most common side effects reported were fever, body pain, and hives. A total of 62 cases have been completely investigated while 2 cases are still under investigation. Of these investigated cases 61 were adult cases and 1 child. TO DATE NONE OF THE REPORTED CASES OF SERIOUS AEFI WERE ASSESSED TO BE COVID-19 VACCINE-RELATED.
Supporting International and Maritime Travel
As we continue in our efforts to open international and domestic travel, the Ministry has continued to be measured in putting in place the necessary support needed to facilitate COVID safe travel.
For international air travel, our efforts to ensure that in-country test is done in such a way the results can be collected and collated to inform timely action and thus have the protective public health effect envisioned is being refined over the coming days. We do expect that changes will be made to ensure that the public health objectives are maintained while at the same time making the measures more traveler-friendly.
In the same vein, our domestic travel measures are initially quite stringent as seen with our requirement to keep public shipping capacity to 50% however this will be reviewed as more of our red zone areas are protected through vaccination.
The Ministry of Health and Medical Services, therefore, requests all travelers to bear with the individual inconveniences they may face as we incorporated the subtle process changes needed to ensure that the highest level of public health protection is maintained.
The public is reminded that we must continue to adhere to COVID-19 safe measures of wearing masks appropriately, especially in indoor public spaces, covering our coughs and sneezes, washing our hands regularly with soap and water, or using a hand sanitizer and maintaining a safe physical distancing of 2 meters.