PRESS RELEASE

COVID-19 Update – 26-08-2021

Last Updated on 4 weeks by Publishing Team

Media Release

COVID-19 Daily Update

Thursday, 26th August 2021

Transmission Update

We have 423 new cases of COVID-19 to report for the 24 hour period that ended at 8am today. 328 cases are from the Western Division, 92 cases are from the Central Division and 3 cases from the Northern 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.

The 3 new cases in the Northern Division were detected in the Namara Tiri Settlement in the Macuata Subdivision. The index case is a freight vehicle driver who works at the Nabouwalu wharf and was tested as part of the routine surveillance program for those working within the Nabouwalu wharf operations. He tested positive on the 24th of August and subsequently 2 household contacts have also turned positive. His previous negative swabs on 14/7/21 and 3/8/21, and 12/8/21 were negative, suggesting recent exposure and infection.

There are 6 more individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 in Malolo Island. There are now 23 active cases on Malolo Island. As mentioned yesterday a medical team from Lautoka has  travelled to Malolo Island to assist the onsite medical team with the necessary response, including isolation of cases, contact tracing, and quarantine of contacts.

There has also been a COVID-19 death in Somosomo Village, on Naviti island, in the Yasawas. This is a 94 year old woman who died at home in Somosomo on 23/08/21. Investigations are underway into how this person became infected, and the Ministry’s response team in the West are conducting contact tracing and testing of contacts to identify more cases on the island. More information will be provided to the public as investigations progress.

There have been 230 new recoveries reported since the last update, which means that there are now 19,280 active cases. 9,568 active cases are in the Central Division, 9,573  active cases in the Western Division, 4 active cases in the Northern Division (Nabouwalu and Macuata) and 135 active cases in the Eastern Division (all in Kadavu). 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 45,098 cases during the outbreak that started in April 2021. We have recorded a total of 45,168 cases in Fiji since the first case was reported in March 2020, with 25,138 recoveries.

Deaths

We have 9 new COVID-19 deaths to report for the period of 19th – 25th August. One death was reported from the Central Division and eight deaths were reported from the Western Division.

The first COVID-19 death to report is an 84 year old woman from Ba. She presented to the Ba Mission Hospital in severe respiratory distress. She died on the same day (24/08/2021). She was not vaccinated.

The second COVID-19 death to report is a 75 year old woman from Lautoka who died at home on the 19/08/2021. She was not vaccinated.

The third COVID-19 death to report is an 80 year old woman from Nadi who died at home on the 25/08/2021. She received the first dose of the vaccine in early-April. She did not receive the second dose of the vaccine. This means that she was not fully vaccinated.

The fourth COVID-19 death to report is a 55 year old woman from Naitasiri who died at home on the 25/08/2021. She received the first dose of the vaccine in early-July. She did not receive the second dose of the vaccine. This means that she was not fully vaccinated.

The fifth COVID-19 death to report is a 71 year old woman from Lautoka who died at home on the 23/08/2021. She was not vaccinated.

The sixth COVID-19 death to report is a 59 year old man from Tavua. He presented to the Tavua Hospital in severe respiratory distress. He was transferred by a medical team from the Tavua Hospital to the Lautoka Hospital. Sadly, he died on the same day (25/08/2021). He received the first dose of the vaccine in late-July. He did not receive the second dose of the vaccine. This means that he was not fully vaccinated.

The seventh COVID-19 death to report is a 65 year old woman from Rakiraki. She presented to the Rakiraki Hospital in severe respiratory distress. She died on the same day (25/08/2021). She was not vaccinated.

The eighth COVID-19 death to report is a 94 year old woman from Somosomo Village, Naviti, Yasawa Islands who died at home on the 23/08/2021. She was not vaccinated.

The ninth COVID-19 death to report is a 75 year old woman from Sigatoka. She presented to the Sigatoka Hospital in severe respiratory distress. She died on the same day (20/08/2021). She received the first dose of the vaccine in mid-July. She did not receive the second dose of the vaccine. This means that she was not fully vaccinated.

There have been 11 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 468 deaths due to COVID-19 in Fiji, with 466 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 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 21st, the national 7 day rolling average of COVID-19 deaths per day is 7. The 7 day rolling average for COVID-19 deaths per day in the Central Division is 3 and in the Western Division is 4.

We also have recorded 282 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 233 COVID-19 patients admitted to hospital. 102 patients are admitted at the Lautoka Hospital, 36 patients are admitted at the FEMAT field hospital, and 95 admitted at CWM hospital, St Giles, and Makoi. 39 patients are considered to be in severe condition, and 11 are in critical condition.

Screening Update

A total of 3,677 individuals were screened and 449 swabbed at our stationary screening clinics in the last 24 hours, bringing our cumulative total to 497,715 individuals screened and 86,895 swabbed to date. As of the 25th August our mobile screening teams screened a total of 1,845 individuals and swabbed 99. This brings our cumulative total to 806,043 individuals screened and 71,138 swabbed by our mobile teams.

Testing update

A total of 325,347 samples have been tested since this outbreak started in April 2021, with 368,208 tested since testing began in March 2020. 1,650 tests have been reported for August 25th. The 7-day daily test average is 1718 tests per day or 1.9 tests per 1,000 population. Weekly testing is at 12.9 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 21.2%, which is on a downward trend, but still indicating a high level of community transmission.

Vaccination Update 

As of the 25th August, 553,399 adults in Fiji have received their first dose of the vaccine and 251,396 have received their second doses. This means that 94.3% of the target population have received at least one dose and 42.9% 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 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 365 cases per day or 413 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. Since July 21st, 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.

However, even with the decrease in testing numbers, 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.

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 outlook for the cases found in the North indicate a persistent risk of a community outbreak. Further tracing and testing results are needed to clearly understand the level of community transmission. All contacts of the first case identified are in quarantine and so far testing negative. The swabbing results from within the Nabouwalu containment area, and nearby communities are  also returning negative.

The situation in Kadavu and Malolo Island is extremely concerning as there is clear evidence of community transmission on both islands. We expect the case numbers to escalate together with the risk of severe disease and death. The death reported today from Naviti Island in the Yasawas is also of concern as it also suggests there is transmission occurring on the island.

Advice to the public

Northern Division Response

In response to the cases reported today, the Namara Tiri Settlement has been  declared a lock down area. Check points will be set up at the 2 road entry points into the settlement Most families in the lockdown area are low income earners. Food and supplies will be supplied through the police checkpoints to individual families with STRICT COVID MEASURE.

Based on the movements of the index case, a restricted movement zone is also declared for the greater Labasa Town area. The objective will be to limit the risk of mass community transmission, and to better screen the local population. To support this objective the following health protection measures will be put into effect.

  • The curfew hours will be brought forward to 8pm to 4am. Curfew hours will be reviewed, if more cases are identified.
  • Any person in a public place within the Province of Bua and Macuata, must, except with reasonable excuse, wear a face covering in the proper manner, with effect from 27th August, 2021. Children under the age of 5 are exempt from this requirement;
  • Supermarkets and shops selling food can open so that people can buy food. Ensure strict COVID 19 protocols are followed
  • Banks can open so that people can get money with strict COVID measures
  • Pharmacies can open so that people can get medicine with strict COVID measures
  • FNPF can open so that people can access funds with strict COVID measures.
  • Within the Labasa Town Area, higher-risk businesses, such as gyms, movie theatres, video gaming shops, cyber cafes, taverns, bars, billiard shops and amusement arcades cannot open for at least the next 14 days.
  • Restaurants may not open for in-person dining, but may offer delivery and take-away services.
  • Other businesses, such as factories and shops, can open as well. However, it is vital that vendors and businesses ensure strict physical distancing before opening their doors. Make sure customers in queues are spaced out by two metres and manage crowding. Customer-facing businesses should limit customer capacity to 50%. Businesses that do not manage these risks with COVID-safe plans will be shut down.

Strict containment measures that have proven successful, our contact tracing team is working overtime to identify and quarantine every known contact of this latest case, so mask-wearing and physical distancing is absolutely essential to stop the virus from spreading.

We are strengthening our network of screening clinics to keep those with COVID-like symptoms away from vulnerable people who visit Health Centres and into separate, dedicated spaces specially designed to effectively identify possible COVID-19 cases.

Please visit one of these clinics immediately to get tested if you live in the Northern Division and have any of the following symptoms: runny nose, sore throat, cough, fever, body ache, headache, loss of taste or smell, difficulty breathing. 

Severe COVID-19

People with severe COVID-19 are still dying at home, or are coming to a medical facility in the late stages of severe illness.

Severe COVID-19 is a medical emergency, and a delay in receiving appropriate medical treatment reduces your chance of recovering from the disease. You are at higher risk of developing severe COVID-19 if you are over the age of 50 or have a non-communicable disease or chronic disease like diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, kidney disease, or if you are obese or pregnant.

If you are at high risk of severe disease and have any symptoms of COVID-19 such as a cough, runny nose, fever, sore throat, body ache, headache, loss of taste/smell – please come to your nearest screening clinic to be checked and tested by our medical teams.

We need also need all Fijians to know the severe symptoms of COVID-19, which include the following:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • Severe headache for a few days
  • New confusion, inability to wake or stay awake
  • Pale, gray, or blue-coloured skin, lips or nail beds

In Suva-Nausori we have identified health facilities specifically designated to receive people with symptoms of severe COVID-19. If you or a loved one live in Suva-Nausori and have any of these severe symptoms please go immediately to the designated health facilities listed below.

  • Colonial War Memorial Hospital (CWMH)
  • FEMAT Hospital, Vodafone Arena

Individuals in Nausori with severe symptoms should go to:

  • Nausori Health Centre
  • Wainibokasi Hospital

In the Western Division, please go to your nearest healthcare facility if you have any symptoms of COVID-19.

Call 165 if you are unable to travel to a medical facility. 

The public in the North are being reminded that it is important that people throughout Vanua Levu listen to advice and continue to practice COVID-19 safety measures. While all cases are related to operations on the Nabouwalu jetty, the first resided in Nabouwalu and the last 3 resided in the Namara Tiri Settlement which is near the township of Labasa.

The public is requested to practice COVID-19 safety measures of wearing a mask when leaving your home, wash your hands regularly with soap and water or use a hand sanitiser, practice safe physical distancing of 2m, ensure that the careFIJI app is downloaded on your phone and enabled and remember to get vaccinated.