PRESS RELEASE

COVID-19 Update – 23-09-2021

Last Updated on 1 month by Publishing Team

Media Release

COVID-19 Daily Update

Thursday, 23rd September 2021 

Transmission Update

We have 177 new cases of COVID-19 to report for the 24 hour period that ended at 8 am today.

There have been 170 new recoveries to report since the last update, which means that there are now 12,979active cases. There have been 50,377 cases during the outbreak that started in April 2021. We have recorded a total of 50,447 cases in Fiji since the first case was reported in March 2020, with 36,460 recoveries.

We have two new border quarantine cases to announce today. A first case is a 20-year-old man from Nadi and a second case is a 22-year-old man from Lautoka. They both arrived in Fiji on the 19th September 2021 at the Lautoka Seaport in a vessel that visited several other seaports. Although both individuals reported to have not disembarked the vessel at any of these ports due to COVID-19 restrictions, however, crew change over at one port is the possible source of infection transmission. The Fiji Border Health Protection Unit is currently investigating this. They have been retrieved as per protocol and transferred to our managed isolation facilities. Both individuals were noted to be symptomatic for COVID-19 but are currently stable. As per protocol, the disinfection process of rooms and linen has been completed by the onsite health quarantine officer and all frontline workers who were in contact with these two individuals have been included on the routine weekly swabbing schedule and the front-liner surveillance schedule.

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 four COVID-19 deaths to report for the period of 21st July- 18th August 2021. All four COVID-19 deaths reported today are from the Central Division. Kindly note these deaths are being reported today due to the delay in the issuance of the official death certificates.

The first COVID-19 death to report is a 72-year-old man from Suva who died at home on 18/08/2021. He was not vaccinated.

The second COVID-19 death to report is a 68-year-old woman from Suva who died at home on 07/08/2021. She was not vaccinated.

The third COVID-19 death to report is an 84-year-old man from Suva who died at home on 21/07/2021. He was not vaccinated.

The fourth COVID-19 death to report is an 82-year-old woman from Suva who died at home on 22/07/2021. She was not vaccinated.

There have been 6 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 a serious pre-existing medical condition and not COVID-19.

There have now been 583 deaths due to COVID-19 in Fiji, with 581 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 September 18th, the national 7 days rolling average of COVID-19 deaths per day is 0.6. The 7 days rolling average for COVID-19 deaths per day in the Central Division is 0.3 and 0.3 in the Western Division.

We have also recorded 425 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 110 COVID-19 patients admitted to the hospital. 41 patients are admitted at the Lautoka Hospital and 69 are admitted at CWM hospital, St Giles, and Makoi. 7 patients are considered to be in severe condition, and 2 are in critical condition.

 Screening Update

A total of 9,191 individuals were screened and 715 swabbed at our stationary screening clinics in the last 24 hours, bringing our cumulative total to 650,569 individuals screened and 99,133 swabbed to date. Our mobile screening teams screened a total of 740 individuals and swabbed 400. This brings our cumulative total to 842,441 individuals screened and 76,414 swabbed by our mobile teams.

Testing Update

A total of 361,357 samples have been tested since this outbreak started in April 2021, with 404,218 tested since testing began in March 2020. 1426 tests have been reported for September 22nd. The 7-day daily test average is 1,245 tests per day or 1.4 tests per 1,000 population. Weekly testing is at 9.7 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 10%, which is on a downward trend, but it still is indicating a high level of community transmission.

Vaccination Update

As of the 22nd September 2021: 589,830 adults in Fiji have received their first dose of the vaccine and 412,897 have received their second doses. Based on our updated total population of 618,173 people aged 18 years and over (adults), the revised vaccination coverage rates are 95.4% for adults who have received at least one dose, and 66.8% are now fully vaccinated nationwide.

As for children, 11,409 children in Fiji have received their first dose of the vaccine as of the 22nd of September. We will be tracking our vaccine coverage rates once we have firmed up our 15 to 17-year-old denominator.

For persons who are currently ill or have valid reasons for delaying their vaccination, we request you to apply for possible temporary exemptions through covidexemptionreq@gmail.com.

Epidemic Outlook

The 7-day average of new cases per day is 123 cases per day or 139 cases per million population per day. As previously announced by the Permanent Secretary, the daily case numbers in the Suva-Nausori corridor 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, our testing remains above the WHO recommended rate of 4 tests 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.

No new cases were recorded on Kadavu Island in the last 24 hours. 12 cases have recovered in the last 24 hours and the remaining 25 active cases are under daily monitoring by the health team. Six patients are currently admitted at the Vunisea hospital, of which 4 are COVID positive and currently in stable condition, and 2 are negative for COVID-19. Education, awareness sessions, surveillance, and vaccination continue for the villages and communities. Movement restrictions remain in force supervised by the Police team and the Vanua.

Two new cases have been reported in the village of Yaro in Malolo Island in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of cases on the island to 72. Of these, a total of 57 cases have recovered and the 15 remaining active cases are monitored daily by the health team. One high-risk case has been transferred for admission at Lautoka Hospital. The screening was conducted at Yaro village and 14 NP swabs were taken for testing. 23 adults and 30 children were vaccinated in the last 24 hours. Movement restrictions remain in force for all villages on Malolo Island.

No new cases were recorded on Naviti Island in the last 24 hours. 86 cases remain active and under surveillance by the health team. Movement restrictions are in place for all villages.

One new case was recorded in Nalawaki village on Waya Island in the last 24 hours. 25 cases have recovered and the 5 active cases are under home isolation in their villages with a daily assessment conducted by the Yalobi nursing station health team. The community engagement and health team visited Wayalevu village and conducted 40 NP swabbing and vaccination for 39 adults and 10 children. The clinical team also reviewed 32 NCD cases and 6 Paediatric cases in the village. The island is still under strict movement restrictions.

No new cases were reported in the Nacula Medical Area in the last 24 hours. The 113 active cases remain in home isolation in their respective villages and are monitored daily by the health team from Nacula health center. Strict movement restriction remains in place for the whole island.

No new cases were recorded on Beqa Island in the last 24 hours. Risk assessment for the 199 active cases revealed that 64 cases were in the moderate risk category and 24 cases in the high-risk category. 318 primary contacts are also under home isolation and daily monitoring from the health team. Vaccination for the villagers will commence once the 14 days lockdown for the island is completed. 150 food packs have been distributed for the villages of Raviravi, Dakuni, Nawaisomo, and Lalati. The rations need for other villages will be addressed in the coming days. Meanwhile, movement restriction remains in force for the whole island.

Public Updates and Advice:

Vaccination of Eligible Children

Vaccination of eligible children aged 15 to 17 years with the Moderna vaccine continues throughout the country at designated vaccination sites for children, and parents are encouraged to register their children before vaccination. The vaccination sites for children can be obtained from the Ministry of Health and Medical Services Facebook page as well as the Government Facebook page. Parental or guardian consent is mandatory before vaccination. No vaccine will be administered to any child without the consent of the parent or guardian.

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.

Border Health Protection

The 2 new border quarantine cases highlight once again our efforts to anticipate and be ready for quarantine operations as we relook at international travel. The Border Health Protection Unit (BHPU) has been established to oversee and facilitate the health protection activities and programs conducted at our border and ports of entry to ensure our protection against trans-border infectious disease spread. The unit will work together with the relevant military, police, and border control units providing the leadership and support needed to strengthen our quarantine operations. Our quarantine protocols are currently undergoing review to define green list countries and/or areas and revise the pre-departure and in-country quarantine and testing protocols for fully vaccinated travelers. In keeping with the science, it is anticipated that pre-departure, quarantine, and in-country testing conditions for fully vaccinated persons from “green” listed countries will be less stringent than then-current conditions.

The BHPU Facility has been established in the CAAF compound in Namaka, Nadi, and this facility will be responsible for coordinating and overseeing quarantine operations.  Their function will be supplemented by a container laboratory that has arrived and is situated close to the border health protection facility.  As a result of an ongoing collaborative effort between WHO, DFAT, ADB, Fiji Airways, and the Government, the laboratory will have the capacity to process around 500 tests per day. In addition, the Unit will also facilitate the following programs and actions at the border:

  1. Establish a Slot Management System with the support of Fiji Airways to manage our quarantine capacity at designated quarantine facilities;
  2. Enforce the restriction on inbound international travelers to only fully vaccinated individuals (except in some emergencies);
  3. Enforce the requirement for all quarantine personnel engaged in quarantine operations to be fully vaccinated;
  4. Engage advanced technologies and CCTV support that support and facilitate improved border health surveillance and oversight.
  5. Establish and inculcate a no-blame work culture and environment that allow quarantine officers to freely report on breaches of COVID safe protocols or symptoms of disease identified in any individual at the border.