PRESS RELEASE

COVID-19 Update – 20-10-2021

Last Updated on 2 months by Publishing Team

Transmission Update: 

In the past 7 days, 181 cases were recorded in the central division, 82 new cases in the western division, 16 new cases in the eastern division, and 6 new cases in the northern division. The central division cases constitute 71% of the cumulative total cases nationally, with the western division making up 27% and 2% in the northern and eastern divisions.

Since the last update, we have recorded 64 new cases of which 39 new cases were recorded on 19/10/2021 and 25 new cases in the last 24 hours ending at 8 am this morning.
Our National 7- day rolling average is 45 daily cases calculated for 15th October 2021.

The weekly incidence rate graph by division indicates a continually declining trend.  Furthermore, the peak weekly incidence in the western division was approximately a third of that in the central division, and the cumulative case numbers are also reflecting a similar difference.

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.

There have been 663 deaths due to COVID-19 in Fiji, with 661 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 October 15th, the national 7 days rolling average of COVID-19 deaths per day is 0.1. The 7 days rolling average for COVID-19 deaths per day in the Central Division is 0.1 and 0.0 in the Western Division, with a case fatality rate of 1.28%.

We have recorded 547 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.


Hospitalisation:

The downward trend in both the new hospital admissions and total admissions in all hospitals admitting COVID-19 patients across the country is consistent with the cases and death trends. The hospital admissions continue on a downward trend indicating a sustained positive response to COVID mitigation measures, Population density differences, and differential Vaccination rates.

Testing:

834  tests have been reported for October 19th, 2021. The 7-day daily test average is 982 tests per day or 1.1 tests per 1,000 population.

The national 7-day average daily test positivity is 3.9%, which is on a downward trend, and below the WHO recommendation of 5%, and this is illustrated by the lab testing graph; also noting the reduction in the daily number of cases. Though we continue testing in high-risk areas, our case numbers and test positivity rate continue to decrease, indicating a better control of the community transmission in Fiji through the combined efforts of containment and mitigation measures with ongoing community surveillance.

Epidemic Outlook:

The 7-day average of new cases per day is 37 cases per day or 42 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 will transition to community surveillance testing as severe disease numbers and positivity rates approach the 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.

Public Advisory:

We are continuing the process of normalizing movement between Viti Levu and Vanua Levu. Precautions are being taken, including requiring a negative COVID-19 test before departure and a 7 day home quarantine. However, COVID-19 has reached communities in almost all countries in the world. As such, community transmission of COVID-19 in the North is to be expected. However, we anticipate that the number of cases, and cases with severe disease, will be less than that seen with the outbreak in Viti Levu, because of higher vaccination coverage.

Within Viti Levu, the outbreak was contained in the Lami to Nausori containment area long enough to allow for escalation of vaccination coverage and clinical response capacity outside the containment area. This contributed to the lower peak and the total number of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths outside the containment area within Viti Levu. We expect to see the same trend in the Northern division, especially if covid safe measures are consistently adhered to.

The best protection from COVID-19 is to get vaccinated, as it reduces your risk of being infected, and spreading the virus. But if you do get infected, it is highly protective in preventing severe disease and death. If you are eligible for vaccination (aged 15 and over) and have not been vaccinated, please get vaccinated now, and continue to practice other protective measures: avoid poorly ventilated, crowded, and confined places, wear a mask when indoors (except in your own home) and in public transport.

The people of the North are reminded to continue to get vaccinated. And with vaccination, we must continue to closely observe our COVID safe measures and avoid contained spaces and crowds to minimize the risk of the 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 now enjoy.

The Ministry of Health and Medical Services in preparation for easing of restrictions in the North has remodeled the health service provision to ensure:

  1. Community surveillance through test, trace, and track protocols is being escalated to help identify and contain any outbreak early.
  2. Registration and line listing of vulnerable persons especially in poorly vaccinated areas has been done;
  3. Preparations for the monitoring of positive cases and vulnerable persons to ensure better access to appropriate care plans has been made;
  4. Clinical care protocols for the severe disease has been reviewed and strengthened;

Our team managing the travel to and from the North will continue to increase the number of travelers we can support to travel as the vaccination rates improve. As such:

  • From yesterday, Tuesday, the 19th of October all travel from Vanua Levu to Viti Levu will not need a registration number nor a MOHMS pass.
  • The Registration and MOHMS pass process will be maintained with regard to travel from Viti Levu to Vanua Levu. This is to ensure that the travel is documented for contact tracing; the negative pre-departure test and vaccination status are verified, and the travel caseload to the North team is kept manageable. All these factors are important to both preventing and being able to contain SARS-CoV 2 transmission in the North. The public is strongly advised to only do a pre-departure test only after your registration number is obtained. Also note that given the increasing vaccination rates, daily traveling quotas to the North are being increased and we will be transitioning to self-monitored home quarantine.

Travel to the maritime islands will undergo similar changes once their 2nd dose vaccination coverage reaches 80% with a 72-hour pre-departure test and on island 7-day quarantine for fully vaccinated travelers. Also for all maritime resorts, travel restrictions will be eased for fully vaccinated workers originating from Viti Levu and maritime islands that have 80% or more 2nd dose coverage.

As mentioned by our Prime Minister on the 10th of October, we plan to drop any quarantine requirement for inter-island travel once more Fijians in Vanua Levu and other islands are fully vaccinated. From 11th November we will open regular inter-island travel but only if vaccination rates in the north and maritime islands maintain a steady rise.