PRESS RELEASE

COVID-19 Update – 26-11-2021

Last Updated on 2 weeks by Publishing Team

COVID-19 Situation Update

Friday 26th November

Transmission Update:

Since the last update, we have recorded a total of 20 new cases; of which 8 new cases were recorded on 25/11/2021, and 12 new cases in the last 24 hours ending at 8 am this morning.

This epidemic curve depicts the daily positive cases since the 2nd wave of this outbreak that began in April 2021. Overall, for this 2nd wave, there have been 52,424 cases recorded, with 71% of the cases from the Central Division, 28% of the cases from the Western Division, and 1% of the cases from the Eastern and Northern Division. 

Our National 7- day rolling average is 6 daily cases calculated for 22nd November 2021.

Deaths:

This curve depicts the daily death count by division 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 daily cases and are likely a reflection of vaccination levels, COVID mitigation measures, and differences in population density.

There is a COVID-19 death to report

The COVID-19 death is of an 87-year-old female from the Central Division who died at home on 18/08/2021. She was not vaccinated. Please note that we are reporting this death today due to a delay in the issuance of the death certificate.

There has been a total of 696 deaths due to COVID-19 in Fiji, with 694 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 22nd, 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 604 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.

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 international repatriates and travelers including Fijians visiting families and friends. With increasing COVID-19 cases in the European region, Fiji will need to maintain our border health measures and surveillance activities.

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 coverage among children aged 15 to 17, however, continues to progress at a reassuring rate. It is also reassuring to see that more than 15,000 doses of Pfizer have been deployed 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 in getting 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 School Re-opening

COVID-19 poses a lower risk to children however secondary transmission from young school-age children can and does occur in both household and school settings. Our vaccine deployment program for children aged 15 to 17 years is going well and we are planning on initiating Pfizer Vaccine deployment from the 15th of November for children aged 12 to 15 years. Conditions required to facilitate COVID safe school conditions have been discussed with the Ministry of Education and a training program to create awareness around COVID safe school conditions has been facilitated for senior education officials.

We note the recent news that the FDA has issued emergency approval for Pfizer to be given to children aged 5 to 11 years, with a pediatric dose of one-third that is given to adults and adolescents. This pediatric dose is given as two shots three weeks apart and is considered by the FDA to be safe and 90% effective.