PRESS RELEASE

COVID-19 Update – 27-09-2021

Last Updated on 3 weeks by Publishing Team

Media Release

COVID-19 Daily Update

Monday 27th September 2021 

Transmission Update

We have 52 new cases of COVID-19 to report for the 24 hour period that ended at 8 am today.

There have been 17 new recoveries to report since the last update, which means that there are now 13,045 active cases. There have been 50,737 cases during the outbreak that started in April 2021. We have recorded a total of 50,807 cases in Fiji since the first case was reported in March 2020, with 36,724 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 two COVID-19 deaths to report for the 29th of July 2021. Both COVID-19 deaths were reported from the Central Division. Kindly note the two 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 79-year-old man from Suva who died at home on 29/07/2021. He was not vaccinated.

The second COVID-19 death to report is a 65-year-old woman from Suva who died at home on 29/07/2021. She was not vaccinated.

There have been 10 more 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 592 deaths due to COVID-19 in Fiji, with 590 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 22nd, the national 7 days rolling average of COVID-19 deaths per day is 0.2. The 7 days rolling average for COVID-19 deaths per day in the Central Division is 0.1 and 0.1 in the Western Division.

We have also recorded 446 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 88 COVID-19 patients admitted to the hospital. 41 patients are admitted at the Lautoka Hospital and 47 are admitted at CWM hospital, St Giles, and Makoi. 6 patients are considered to be in severe condition, and 4 are in critical condition.

 Screening Update

A total of 1036 individuals were screened and 142 swabbed at our stationary screening clinics in the last 24 hours, bringing our cumulative total to 663,503 individuals screened and 100,355 swabbed to date. Our mobile screening teams screened a total of 170 individuals and swabbed 74. This brings our cumulative total to 847,051 individuals screened and 76,801 swabbed by our mobile teams.

Testing Update

A total of 365,634 samples have been tested since this outbreak started in April 2021, with 408,495 tested since testing began in March 2020. 735 tests have been reported for September 26th. 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 1,190 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 tests per 1000 population per week. The national 7-day average daily test positivity is 8.6%, which is on a downward trend, but it still is indicating a high level of community transmission.

Vaccination Update

As of the 26th 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 104 cases per day or 117 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.

No new case was recorded on Kadavu Island in the last 24 hours. Of the total cases on the island, 543 cases have recovered and the remaining 14 active cases are under daily monitoring by the health team. Eight patients are currently admitted at Vunisea hospital, of which 3 are COVID positive and currently in stable condition, and 5 are negative for COVID-19. Vaccination was conducted by 5 teams from the Vunisea health team and 2 teams from the Kavala health team. 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 are monitored daily by the health teams from the respective medical areas. Movement restrictions remain in force for the islands.

No 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. Daily monitoring by the health team continues for the active cases and 321 primary contacts. 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 have been recorded on Ovalau Island in the last 24 hours. The 2 positive cases remain in the Isolation facility and are monitored by the health team in Levuka. Internal repatriation to Ovalau has been put on hold for now.

Public Updates and Advice:

Disease Surveillance for Maritime Communities

The Ministry is putting together plans to surveil maritime communities and islands close to those maritime islands that are reporting cases of COVID-19. As part of this program, surveillance done on the Yadua and Yageta islands, based on proximity and potential for travel with islands in Yasawa, generated a total of 104 samples all of which were negative. Similar surveillance in Yaqeta generated 78 random swabs which have all been reported as negative. While in Vatulele, a total of 57 negative swabs have been reported. This program will continue to be conducted by the divisional health teams and extend to other maritime islands in the Eastern, Western, and Northern divisions.

Preparing COVID safe Workplaces

As we prepare for more industries and workplaces to open, the Ministry of Health and Medical Services reiterates our advice for all workplaces and business places to establish strategies to ensure personal COVID safe practices continue and are monitored, improved, and escalated. We remind all businesses and workplaces of the need to focus 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 necessary for a COVID safe working environment, whilst sanitization of all contact surfaces provides secondary support in reducing the transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

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. The amount of outside air supplied is maximized,
  4. Where feasible, installation of air filters with a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) 13 or higher is carried out.

Lifting of international travel restrictions, and other social and workplace engagement restrictions.

The Ministry is preparing for the lifting of international travel restrictions, and other social and workplace engagement restrictions, noting that a number of countries have seen an increased number of cases with the relaxation of restrictions. There will always be people vulnerable to the virus even as we increase our vaccination coverage. We have one-third of the population under 18 years who will soon be eligible for vaccination. We will have older people with comorbidities whose 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. As such, future resurgence of infections and increased case numbers will again test our critical care capacities. We are constantly reviewing and updating our healthcare protocols so we can respond effectively to future outbreaks.

The key to avoiding future restrictions and lockdowns is for the public to remain cautious about how they engage in the greater freedom 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 continue to observe our COVID safe measures and avoid contained spaces and crowds.

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. 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.