PRESS RELEASE

COVID-19 Update – 25-10-2021

Last Updated on 1 month by Publishing Team

Transmission Update:

Since the last update, we have recorded a total of 51 new cases; of which 22 new cases were recorded on 23/10/2021, 15 new cases on 24/10/2021, and 14 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 began in April 2021. Overall for this 2nd wave, there have been 51,958 cases recorded, with 71% of the cases from the Central Division, 27% of the cases from the Western Division, and 2% of the cases from the Eastern and Northern Division.

Our National 7- day rolling average is 35 daily cases calculated for 20th October 2021.

Deaths:
We do not have any COVID-19 deaths to report.
There has been 1 death of a COVID-19 positive patient. However, this death has been classified as a Non-COVID-19 death by the doctors, as patients died of serious pre-existing medical conditions. There have been 673 deaths due to COVID-19 in Fiji, with 671 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 October 20th, the national 7 days rolling average of COVID-19 deaths per day is 0.1. The 7 days rolling average for COVID-19 deaths per day in the Central Division is 0.1 and 0.0 in the Western Division. We have also recorded 560 COVID-19 positive patients who died from the serious medical conditions they had before they contracted COVID-19; these are not classified as COVID-19 deaths.

Epidemic Outlook:

The 7-day average of new cases per day is 26 cases per day or 29 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 continues monitoring other indicators such as test positivity, hospitalisations, and deaths to track the progress of the outbreak, and it is noted that there is a downward trend across all indicators of the COVID-19 epidemic in Fiji.

With the reduction in testing numbers, which is above the WHO recommended rate of 4 tests per 1,000 population per week (or approx. 3,500 tests per week), we will transition to community surveillance testing as severe disease numbers and positivity rates approach the containment phase levels.

Public Advisory: 

Preparation for Quarantine Free Travel to the Northern Division

Our current vaccine coverage data indicates a need for MOHMS to provide additional resources to Nabouwalu Hospital to prepare for the possible escalation of COVID 19 cases and adverse events. The second dose vaccination coverage for the Bua subdivision remains a concern based on the MOH vaccination coverage data. This will have to be a key strategy in remodelling the health service provision to ensure:

  1.     Community surveillance through test, trace, and track protocols are being escalated to help us identify and contain any outbreak early.
  2.     Registration and line listing of vulnerable persons especially in poorly vaccinated areas are done;
  3.     Preparations for the monitoring of positive cases and vulnerable persons to ensure better access to appropriate care plans has been made;
  4.     Clinical care protocols for the severe disease has been reviewed and strengthened;

The Whole-of-Government Community Engagement initiative will be escalated in the North with particular attention made to the Bua Subdivision and this will include a reduction of the dose interval to 6 weeks. We look forward to the engagement of all community leaders to facilitate this exercise.

Exemption from Vaccination

We have received a number of requests for exemption from vaccination on medical grounds. The exemptions on medical grounds are provided for the following reasons:

  1. Documented history of severe allergic reaction to a component of each currently available COVID-19 vaccine;
  2. Documented history of severe or immediate-type hypersensitivity allergic reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine, and separate contraindication to other available formulations;
  3. Receiving immunosuppressive  treatment(treatment that weakens the body’s immune system) and advised by a medical provider to defer vaccination to a future date;
  4. For those with a medical condition, please be advised that in most cases vaccination is even more indicated. While an opinion by a medical provider to forgo vaccination or to defer vaccination will be considered, this requires that the application is accompanied by documentation to prove that the person has the medical condition as stated. Furthermore, the final decision on exemption will be based on consensus guidelines from Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (‘SAGE’) and similar international authoritative bodies. 

The following conditions that are NOT considered for a medical exemption include:

  1. History of severe allergic reactions to foods, oral medications, latex, pets, insects, and environmental triggers;
  2. History of immunocompromising conditions where the vaccine may be less effective;
  3. Fear of needles;
  4. History of vaccine side effects or general avoidance of vaccines.

International Travel 

From 11th November through to 1st December 2021, Fiji will only accept fully vaccinated permit holders, Fijian passport holders, and returning residents who will be required to undertake a 3-day quarantine in a Fiji Managed Quarantine facility and will be subject to RT-PCR tests 72 hours pre-departure and in-country. Beginning 1st December 2021, Fiji will be open to fully vaccinated travelers from Travel Partner Countries for reduced quarantine arrangements on arrival.

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 monitoring and outreach capability and retrieval services for those in the line list;
  4. Strengthening our Clinical Care Protocols

The public is reminded that there will always be people vulnerable to the virus despite our high vaccination coverage. We have one-third of the population under 18 years old, most of whom still need to be vaccinated. 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.