PRESS RELEASE

COVID-19 Update – 26-09-2021

Last Updated on 3 weeks by Publishing Team

Media Release

COVID-19 Daily Update

Sunday 26th September 2021 

Transmission Update

We have 54 new cases of COVID-19 to report for the 24 hour period that ended at 8 am today.

There have been 99 new recoveries to report since the last update, which means that there are now 13,022 active cases. There have been 50,685 cases during the outbreak that started in April 2021. We have recorded a total of 50,755 cases in Fiji since the first case was reported in March 2020, with 36,707 recoveries.

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 no new COVID-19 deaths to report today.

There have now been 590 deaths due to COVID-19 in Fiji, with 588 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 21st, the national 7 days rolling average of COVID-19 deaths per day is 0.3. The 7 days rolling average for COVID-19 deaths per day in the Central Division is 0 and 0.3 in the Western Division.

We have also recorded 436 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 93 COVID-19 patients admitted to the hospital. 43 patients are admitted at the Lautoka Hospital and 50 are admitted at CWM hospital, St Giles, and Makoi. 10 patients are considered to be in severe condition, and 4 are in critical condition.

 Screening Update

A total of 3,539 individuals were screened and 220 swabbed at our stationary screening clinics in the last 24 hours, bringing our cumulative total to 662,467 individuals screened and 100,213 swabbed to date. Our mobile screening teams screened a total of 24 individuals and swabbed 185. This brings our cumulative total to 846,881 individuals screened and 76,727 swabbed by our mobile teams.

Testing Update

A total of 364,723 samples have been tested since this outbreak started in April 2021, with 407,584 tested since testing began in March 2020. 651 tests have been reported for September 25th. Lab testing data from one lab is still being received. Therefore, lab testing data is expected to increase. The 7-day daily test average is 1,182 tests per day or 1.3 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 9.8%, which is on a downward trend, but it still is indicating a high level of community transmission.

Vaccination Update

As of the 25th September 2021: 591,293 adults in Fiji have received their first dose of the vaccine and 425,902 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 95.7% for adults who have received at least one dose, and 68.9% are now fully vaccinated nationwide.

As for children, 17,996 children in Fiji have received their first dose of the vaccine as of the 24th 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 114 cases per day or 129 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 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.

One new case was recorded on Kadavu Island in the last 24 hours bringing the total number of cases to 556. Of these, 536 cases have recovered and the remaining 18 active cases are under daily monitoring by the health team. Seven patients are currently admitted at Vunisea hospital, of which 3 are COVID positive and currently in stable condition, and 4 are negative for COVID-19. Vaccination was conducted by 5 teams from the Vunisea health team and 2 teams from the Kavala health team. Vaccination for children will commence on Monday 27 September 2021. Movement restrictions remain in force supervised by the Police team and the Vanua.

No new cases have been reported in Malolo Island, Naviti Island, Waya Island, and the Nacula Medical Area in the last 24 hours. The active cases are isolated in their respective villages and monitored daily by the health teams from the respective medical areas. Movement restrictions remain in force for the islands.

Six new cases were recorded on Beqa Island in the last 24 hours.  Of the new total of 248 cases on the island, 44 cases have recovered and 203 are active cases who are under home isolation and daily monitoring from the health team. The positive cases are distributed in the villages of Dakuibeqa, Dakuni, Soliyaga, Naceva, Nawaisomo, Lalati, Raviravi, and 2 new cases on Yanuca Island. Risk assessment for the active cases revealed that 51 cases are of the high-risk category, and 78 cases are in the moderate category. Vaccination for the villagers will commence once the 14 days lockdown for the island is completed. Movement restriction remains in force for the whole island.

No new cases were recorded on Ovalau Island in the last 24 hours. The 2 positive cases are in the Isolation facility and monitored by the health team in Levuka. Contact tracing continues for the new cases who are monitored daily by the Levuka health team. Internal repatriation to Ovalau has been put on hold for now.

Public Updates and Advice:

As the second dose coverage increases and a greater portion of our population become fully vaccinated against COVID-19, local and international travel restrictions and other social and workplace engagement restrictions will be gradually lifted. However, we wish to advise that members of the public must remain cautious about how they engage in the greater freedoms that they will enjoy. 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.

There will always be people vulnerable to the virus even as we increase our vaccinations coverage. We have one-third of the population under 18 years and who will soon be eligible for vaccination. We will have older people with comorbidities who, although having better protection with vaccination, their ability to build up vaccine immunity is not as good as younger and healthier persons. Also of concern is that we will have unvaccinated people in our communities who are also not exposed to the virus, and hence do not have any protection against the disease, and among them are elderly persons and those with serious comorbidities

The potential for transmission in any community will be slower, and the ability to contain the outbreak better, when we achieve a high vaccination rate and also maintain strict adherence to COVID safe measures. So we encourage the public to persist in the practice of COVID-19 safe measures of wearing a mask when leaving your home, washing your hands regularly with soap and water or using a hand sanitizer, practicing the correct coughing and sneezing etiquette, maintaining safe physical distancing of 2 meters, ensuring that the careFIJI app is downloaded on your phone and enabled, and last but not least, getting all eligible individuals fully vaccinated. When we do this we not only protect ourselves but also protect all those around us especially the vulnerable, those not eligible for vaccination, and those who are not yet vaccinated.

As we prepare for more industry and workplaces to open, the Ministry of Health and Medical Services reiterate our plea for all workplaces and business places to establish strategies to ensure personal COVID safe practices continue and are monitored and improved and escalated. We also remind all businesses and workplaces that there is an urgent need to refocus on improving ventilation and air quality to support their current COVID safe measures. There is increasing scientific evidence that improvement in ventilation and air quality in workplaces is a prerequisite to COVID safe conditions whilst sanitization of all contact surfaces provides secondary support in reducing the transmission of the SARS COV.  Maximizing natural ventilation by opening windows, doors, and vents when conditions allow (not posing a safety risk), or mechanical ventilation using fans and ducts, or a combination of both is important. Any poorly ventilated spaces in the workplace must be identified and steps are taken to improve fresh air flow in these areas. The use of portable air cleaners with High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters in spaces with high occupancy or limited ventilation is strongly recommended. In buildings with heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, it is important to ensure that:

  1. These systems are operating in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and design specifications,
  2. All regularly scheduled inspections and maintenance procedures are conducted,
  3. Maximize the amount of outside air supplied,
  4. Where feasible, installing air filters with a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) of 13 or higher.

While we strive to free the country of the heavy burden of the COVID-19 disease and enter into the new normal way of living, we must move ahead and approach the future with caution and care, as in the words of a leading infectious disease expert, “with our eyes wide open and with a great deal of humility”.