PRESS RELEASE

COVID-19 Update – 24-11-2021

Last Updated on 2 weeks by Publishing Team

Transmission Update:

In the past 7 days, 26 cases were recorded in the Central division, 14 new cases in the Western division, 3 new cases in the Eastern Division, and nil new cases in the Northern Division. The Central Division cases constitute 71% of the cumulative total cases nationally, with the Western division making up 28% and 1% in the Northern and Eastern Divisions.

Since the last update, we have recorded 6 new cases of which nil new case was recorded on 23/11/2021 and 6 new cases in the last 24 hours ending at 8 am this morning.

The national 7-day rolling average of cases as of 20th November is 7 daily cases.

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 October 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 is no COVID-19 death to report for today.

There have been 695 deaths due to COVID-19 in Fiji, with 693 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 November 20th, the national 7 days rolling average for COVID-19 deaths per day is 0.0, with a case fatality rate of 1.32%.

We have recorded 601 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:

344 tests have been reported for November 23rd, 2021. The 7-day daily test average is 395 tests per day or 0.4 tests per 1,000 population.

The national 7-day average daily test positivity is 2%, which is below the WHO recommendation of 5%, and this is illustrated by the lab testing graph. Though we continue testing in high-risk areas, our case numbers and test positivity rate indicate 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 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.

Public Advisory:

The rise in vaccination rates for eligible adults continues to rise at a very slow rate. Our vaccination rate among children aged 15 to 17, however, continues to progress at a reassuring rate. It is also reassuring to see that more than 10,500 doses of Pfizer have been deployed over 6 days despite the many cold chain complexities involved in the Pfizer deployment. Whilst the demand for Pfizer deployment in children has been extremely encouraging and we applaud the enthusiasm of parents to get their children protected, we ask that the public be patient.  We have deliberately brought in our Pfizer stocks in small batches to ensure we stay within our ultra-cold chain capacity as we learn to adjust to the Pfizer requirements and ensure that the changes, we make are sustainable enough to ensure ongoing access to Pfizer for all our children.

There has also been the limited deployment of Moderna booster doses to all adults over 60 years, to those under 60 years with significant morbidity, and those under 60 in the frontline.

The Ministry is also reassured that at this time all our disease indicators are indicating a healthy trend. Unfortunately, we also see that COVID safe measures in public indoor spaces, in public transportation over land and sea, and organized outdoor gatherings are now being increasingly flouted and ignored. Poor compliance to COVID Safe measures is now more clearly visible in major businesses facilities. We do expect the third wave of cases because of excessive gatherings that are going to happen over Christmas and New Year and we continue to prepare to have the wave of severe cases in hospitals.

The public of Fiji needs to embrace society-wide promotion and compliance with COVID safe measures to ensure the 3rd wave is small; a wave we learn to live with and learn from. Whilst the easing of restrictions is needed to facilitate social and economic livelihood, the public must ensure that together with vaccination, we should continue to observe our COVID safe measures and avoid contained spaces and crowds to avoid the risk of increased spread of the virus.

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 incorporate 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.