PRESS RELEASE

COVID-19 Update – 28-09-2021

Last Updated on 2 months by Publishing Team

Media Release

COVID-19 Daily Update

Tuesday, 28th September 2021 

Transmission Update

We have 65 new cases of COVID-19 to report for the 24 hour period that ended at 8 am today.

There have been 196 new recoveries to report since the last update, which means that there are now 12,869 active cases. There have been 50,802 cases during the outbreak that started in April 2021. We have recorded a total of 50,872 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 29 COVID-19 deaths to report for the period of 06th July 2021 – 17th September 2021. Twenty-eight COVID-19 deaths were reported from the Central Division while one COVID-19 death was reported from the Western Division. As mentioned above we are currently reviewing and reconciling our active case database with deaths and recoveries therefore the deaths and recovery numbers are expected to intermittently change as verifications are being made.

An analysis of the 29 deaths have highlighted that individuals were aged between 35 to 89 years, 55% (n=16) were males, 96.5% (n=28) of the individuals died at home or on their way to the hospital and 82.7% (n=24) of the deaths were unvaccinated, 13.8% (n=4) of the deaths received one dose of the vaccine and one death was fully vaccinated. The fully vaccinated individual was elderly and was admitted with severe comorbidity.

There have been 16 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 621 deaths due to COVID-19 in Fiji, with 619 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 23rd, the national 7 days rolling average of COVID-19 deaths per day is 0.4. The 7 days rolling average for COVID-19 deaths per day in the Central Division is 0.1 and 0.3 in the Western Division.

We have also recorded 462 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 92 COVID-19 patients admitted to the hospital. 46 patients are admitted at the Lautoka Hospital and 46 are admitted at CWM hospital, St Giles, and Makoi. 7 patients are considered to be in severe condition, and 4 are in critical condition.

 Screening Update

A total of 9632 individuals were screened and 488 swabbed at our stationary screening clinics in the last 24 hours, bringing our cumulative total to 673,135 individuals screened and 100,843 swabbed to date. Our mobile screening teams screened a total of 578 individuals and swabbed 22. This brings our cumulative total to 847,629 individuals screened and 76,823 swabbed by our mobile teams.

Testing Update

A total of 366,604 samples have been tested since this outbreak started in April 2021, with 409,465 tested since testing began in March 2020. 970 tests have been reported for September 27th. 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 1,136 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 8.3%, which is on a downward trend, but it still is indicating a high level of community transmission.

Vaccination Update

To date, 591,785 adults in Fiji have received their first dose of the vaccine and 437,730 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 70.8% are now fully vaccinated nationwide.

As for children, 17,996 children in Fiji have received their first dose of the vaccine as of 24/09/2021. 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.

The vaccination program for Fijians under the age of 18 is progressing well, with more than 17,900 children vaccinated to date. Our adverse events reporting system has recorded zero reports of concern among vaccinated children in Fiji.

In order to synchronize the vaccination deployment effort with digital platform support, the Ministry will be deferring scheduled vaccinations for those under the age of 18 by one week. Vaccine information for Fijians under the age of 18 who have received one dose of the vaccine will be manually inputted in the digital registry for ease of access for vaccine authentication.

Epidemic Outlook

The 7-day average of new cases per day is 96 cases per day or 109 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 cases were recorded on Kadavu Island in the last 24 hours. Of the total 557 cases on the island, 542 cases have recovered and the remaining 13 active cases are under daily monitoring by the health team. Risk Assessment for the active cases revealed that 3 were considered high risk and 10 were low-risk cases. 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 conducted by 5 teams from the Vunisea health team and 2 teams from the Kaval health team commenced today. 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 248 cases, 54 have recovered and 193 remain active. The active cases and the 269 primary contacts and 12 secondary contacts are under home isolation and daily monitoring from the health team. The active cases are distributed between the villages of Dakuibeqa, Soliyaga, Dakuni, Yanuca, Naceva, Nawaisomo, Lalati, and Raviravi. Risk assessment for the active cases noted that 39 are in the high-risk category and 70 in the moderate risk 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.

Ovalau Island did not report any new cases in the last 24 hours. The 2 positive cases remain in the Isolation facility and are monitored by the health team in Levuka. Contact tracing is underway for the new cases who remain in the isolation facility and monitored by the Levuka health team. Internal repatriation to Ovalau has been put on hold for now.

Public Updates and Advice:

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.

Vaccine Coverage and Relaxing Social Restrictions and Quarantine Conditions

As tweeted by the Hon. Prime Minister, curfew hours will move up to 10 pm to 4 am from tomorrow the 29th of September 2021. From the 4th of October, houses of worship and almost all workplaces can open up to 70% capacity to double-dosed adults.

We are looking at reducing quarantine periods based on the science around the delta variant. To supplement our quarantine protocols, the Ministry of Health and Medical services is also in the final phases of:

  1.  Re-escalating our community surveillance back to containment phase levels with a strong emphasis on our careFIJI to facilitate tracking and rapid contact tracing efforts;
  2. Strengthening our line listing for positive cases and vulnerable persons;
  3. Ensuring better access to Clinical outreach capability and retrieval services for those in the line list;
  4. Strengthening our Clinical Care Protocols