PRESS RELEASE

COVID-19 Update – 31-08-2021

Last Updated on 3 weeks by Publishing Team

Media Release

COVID-19 Daily Update

Tuesday, 31st August 2021

Transmission Update

We have 505 new cases of COVID-19 to report for the 24 hour period that ended at 8 am today. 343 cases are from the Western Division, 105 cases are from the Central Division and 57 cases are from the Eastern 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.

There are 57 new COVID-19 positive cases in Kadavu. This means there are now 232 active cases of COVID-19 in Kadavu. All these individuals have been isolated.

There have been 810 new recoveries to report since the last update, which means that there are now 19,151 active cases. 8,352 active cases are in the Central Division, 10,562 active cases in the Western Division, 5 active cases in the Northern Division (Nabouwalu and Macuata), and 232 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 intermittently increase markedly as verifications are made.

There have been 46,646 cases during the outbreak that started in April 2021. We have recorded a total of 46,716 cases in Fiji since the first case was reported in March 2020, with 26,761 recoveries.

Deaths

We have 7 new COVID-19 deaths to report for the period from the 27th – 30th August 2021.  All deaths were reported from the Western Division.

The first COVID-19 death to report is a 55-year-old woman from Nadi. She presented to the Nadi Hospital in severe respiratory distress (28/08/2021). Sadly, she died on the same day. Her family reported that she reported feeling unwell with generalized weakness, a cough, shortness of breath, and a reduced appetite two weeks before her presentation (14/08/2021). She received the first dose of the vaccine in late May. She received the second dose of the vaccine on 23/07/2021. Although she was fully vaccinated she had underlying medical conditions and background of poor general health. These pre-existing conditions would have toned down her ability to mount a good vaccine-induced immune response and thus impair her ability to fully benefit from the protective effects of the vaccine. The Ministry of Health and Medical Services advises that we all need to continue practicing strict COVID-19 safety measures to protect our vulnerable family members, irrespective of vaccination status.

The second COVID-19 death to report is a 76-year-old woman from Ba who died at home on 29/08/2021. She was not vaccinated.

The third COVID-19 death to report is a 72-year-old man from Rakiraki. He presented to the Rakiraki Hospital in severe respiratory distress. Sadly, he died on the same day 27/08/2021. He was not vaccinated.

The fourth COVID-19 death to report is an 83-year-old woman from Rakiraki. She presented to the Rakiraki Hospital in severe respiratory distress. Sadly, she died 2 days after admission on 29/08/2021. She was not vaccinated.

The fifth COVID-19 death to report is a 74-year-old woman from Rakiraki who died at home on 29/08/2021. She was not vaccinated.

The sixth COVID-19 death to report is a 53-year-old man from Nadi. He presented to the Nadi Hospital in severe respiratory distress. A medical team from Nadi transferred him to the Lautoka Hospital. Sadly, he died 12 days after admission on 30/08/2021. He was not vaccinated.

The seventh COVID-19 death is a 56-year-old woman from Tavua. She presented to the Tavua Hospital in severe respiratory distress. A medical team from Tavua transferred her to the Lautoka Hospital. Sadly, she died 7 days after admission on 29/08/2021. She was not vaccinated.

There has been one death of a COVID-19 positive patient. However, this death has been classified as a non-COVID death by their doctors. The doctors have determined that the death was caused by a serious pre-existing medical condition and not COVID-19.

There have now been 496 deaths due to COVID-19 in Fiji, with 494 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 the date of death, to help ensure the data collected is complete before the average is reported. Therefore, as of August 26th, the national 7 day rolling average of COVID-19 deaths per day is 6. The 7 day rolling average for COVID-19 deaths per day in the Central Division is 2 and in the Western Division is 4.

We also have recorded 308 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.

Hospitalizations

There are currently 239 COVID-19 patients admitted to the hospital. 113 patients are admitted at the Lautoka Hospital, 19 patients are admitted at the FEMAT field hospital, and 107 are admitted at CWM hospital, St Giles, and Makoi. 24 patients are considered to be in severe condition, and 15 are in critical condition.

Screening Update

A total of 3,299 individuals were screened and 559 swabbed at our stationary screening clinics in the last 24 hours, bringing our cumulative total to 513,310 individuals screened and 88,776 swabbed to date. As of the 30th of August, our mobile screening teams screened a total of 1460 individuals and swabbed 97. This brings our cumulative total to 810,930 individuals screened and 71,642 swabbed by our mobile teams.

Testing Update

A total of 331,951 samples have been tested since this outbreak started in April 2021, with 374,812 tested since testing began in March 2020. 1375 tests have been reported for August 30th. The 7-day daily test average is 1389 tests per day or 1.6 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 23.5%, which is on a downward trend but still indicating a high level of community transmission.

Vaccination Update 

As of the 30th of August, 559,650 adults in Fiji have received their first dose of the vaccine and 271,329 have received their second doses. This means that 95.6% of the target population have received at least one dose and 46.7% are now fully vaccinated nationwide. As previously mentioned 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 relook at certain subdivisions that have generated coverage rates beyond 100%. This will allow us to 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 318 cases per day or 359 cases per million population per day. As previously announced by the Permanent Secretary, daily case numbers in Suva-Nausori 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, hospitalizations, and deaths to track the progress of the outbreak.

With the decrease in testing numbers, testing remains above the WHO recommended rate of 4 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 still seeing a high number of cases and high test positivity of 33.5% in the Western Division indicating a very high level of community transmission. Test positivity in the Central Division is on a downward trend but still indicating a very high level of community transmission at 20.5%. Deaths have also been decreasing in Suva-Nausori over the last 4 weeks. While deaths in Western are still at a high level, with deaths per day at a 7 day average in the Western Division now surpassing the Central Division.

North Update

I. Nabouwalu

The Nabouwalu Containment Protocols were uplifted as of 4 am this morning having completed after 14 Days based on the following

  1. All 17 Primary contacts have completed quarantine with negative tests on Day 1, Day 4 & 12 and are therefore pose no risk to the community
  2. All 85 Secondary contacts had returned negative tests
  3. A total of 708 Surveillance Swabs collected from communities in the containment area by the Mobile Screening Team all returned negative. Furthermore, daily symptom screening did not reveal any surges of Respiratory illness.
  4. An additional 408 swabs collected from areas outside the containment zone have all returned negative.
  5. The dose 1 vaccination coverage for the containment area was at 67% at the beginning of the lockdown and now 84% with dose 2 coverage at 25%
  6. The 46 vulnerable individuals inside the containment area were covered daily by the Mobile team and have remained stable to date

It was very heartening for the Medical team to note the marked reduction in social gathering and increased adherence to covid protocols especially in public areas and retails shops. The Nabouwalu Community must be congratulated for this sterling demonstration of community spirit. We especially acknowledge the efforts of the Multi Ministerial Community Engagement team led by the Provisional Administrator Bua and the leadership shown by Village leaders and elders in the Nabouwalu Area

Border control measures have been strengthened at the Nabouwalu Jetty with regular screening and swabbing of all individuals involved in the wharf operations. And wharf is now a restricted area from the public during operating hours.

II. Namara Tiri

Today is the 5th day of lockdown in the Namara Tiri settlement. The 3 positive cases from Namara Tiri Settlement are well and stable in the Quarantine facility in Malau. The 64 primary contacts tested negative on day one and we await the repeat swab test done today. A total of 181 secondary contacts were identified and all have tested negative. So far there have been no reported surges in respiratory illness from the screening clinics. The government-provided rations continue to be provided to those in the lockdown area and quarantine. The response by the Business Community and the Community at large has been truly encouraging with the widespread embracing of covid safe measures and practices.

The outlook for the North remains guarded as the risk of community transmission remains significant. The public in the North is being reminded that it is important that people throughout Vanua Levu listen to the Ministry’s advice and continue to practice COVID-19 safety measures.

Kadavu Update

Nine health screening teams have been deployed to systematically undertake outbreak assessment for the 75 villages and 15 settlements of Kadavu Island. Seven villages have been completed so far and the initial assessment is anticipated to be completed by the end of this first week of deployment. The teams are doing swabbing and screening, contact tracing, checking immunization status, and doing vaccination, as well as training the Community Health Workers in each community on monitoring positive patients in their own homes with pulse oximeters machines. Patients who show low readings in oximetry are referred to the zone nurses and Vunisea hospital or Kavala Health Centre for further assessment and care.

Vunisea hospital has been set up as the main COVID admission hospital in Kadavu with a 20-bed capacity, and sections of the hospital designated as a triage area, COVID admission wards, and Non-COVID admission wards. Additional surge admission capacity has been established at the admission block of the hospital, and the Vunisea Secondary School has been identified as the possible Intermediate Care facility if patient numbers continue to increase. To date, 3 COVID patients are admitted to the hospital and are in stable condition. For pregnant mothers, near-term mothers have been brought to Vunisea hospital for close monitoring. Processes for the management of the deceased have been established.

The community engagement team led by Provincial Administrator Kadavu is assisting with community awareness, home quarantine of cases in their villages, and transfer of cases for admission to Vunisea Hospital. Movement restriction at Vunisea wharf has been enforced to ensure minimal contact with people when freight and supplies are delivered at the wharf. The village headman in each village in Kadavu has voluntarily lockdown their villages, and positive villagers are strictly home isolated for 14 days and visited daily by village health workers or zone nurses for monitoring and assessment. Some villages have also established isolation houses away from the villages for their returning villagers who will only be allowed back into the village only after completing 14 days of isolation and cleared by the medical staff.

Yasawa Update

In Malolo, the screening and containment program by public health teams continues. Even though no new cases have been reported the risk of community transmission remains significant

The containment and screening program by public health teams in Naviti is ongoing and the clinical response is being escalated and an update will be provided tomorrow. There has been a severe case evacuated from Somosomo Village. Given that we have 2 severe outcome cases as early evidence of the outbreak; the risk of community transmission is very high.

The outlook for the cases found in the North indicates 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 tested negative. The swabbing results from within the Nabouwalu containment area, and nearby communities are also returning negative. The Nabouwalu index case (wharf worker) is in stable condition and the members of their family have continued to test negative for the virus. All primary contacts’ exit swabs have also returned negative. As regards the three positive cases in Namara Tiri Labasa, so far, we have established 60 primary contacts. All have been swabbed and have returned negative results. There are ongoing investigations to verify the final number of contacts.

The situation in Kadavu and Malolo Island remains 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 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

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. As mentioned by the Permanent Secretary today: 78% of COVID-19 deaths during this outbreak occurred at home, or on the way to the hospital, or within 2 days of hospital admission – giving no or little opportunity for our clinical teams to provide potentially life-saving treatment.

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-colored 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. 

For the rest of Fiji, the public is requested to persist in the practice of COVID-19 safety measures of wearing a mask when leaving your home, washing your hands regularly with soap and water or using a hand sanitiser, practicing safe physical distancing of 2m, ensuring that the careFIJI app is downloaded on your phone and enabled and last but not least REMEMBER TO GET VACCINATED.