Media statement

Short Statement Responding to Concerns on Reported COVID-19 Deaths

Last Updated on 4 months by Publishing Team

In this current wave, we have so far reported 52 deaths that we determined to be related to COVID 19. As we had experienced in the second wave, adverse health-seeking behavior and significant co-morbidities remain the main contributing factor. Out of the 52 deaths:

      • 50 died either at home, on the way to a health facility, or on arrival at the health facility. The other 2 died within 24 hours of arrival at the health facility.
      • 45 had significant co-morbidities. Of the 7 with no co-morbidity, 6 were 60 to 92 years old and 1 was 21 years old which we reported last night.

Due to the protection afforded by the vaccination program, the reported deaths have been much less compared to the previous wave and the deaths have been mostly in individuals with high medical risk and who have died, either at home, on the way to the hospital, or within a few days of admission. The 21-year-old we reported last night did not have any comorbidities, however, he, unfortunately, died at home. These 2 factors also make it difficult to narrate more precisely the extent to which COVID 19 contributes to the death of patients.

We have mentioned in the past that the vaccines are 80% protective against severe disease and death…. not 100%.  As such, if community transmission is high enough, rare outcomes will be more visible. Therefore, our awareness of the symptoms of severe COVID-19 disease, and early presentation to a health facility when severe symptoms are present, are critical protection measures that we should know and act upon. The severe symptoms to look out for are: having trouble breathing (shortness of breath or difficulty breathing), ongoing chest pain, severe headache, confusion, inability to stay awake or wake up, pale, grey or blue-colored skin, lips or fingernails, worsening weakness, coughing blood.

To live with the virus and control its adverse effects, we need to live by the Vaccine Plus Approach. Vaccination on its own is not enough for our protection. The Vaccine Plus approach means that we are keeping ourselves sufficiently protected by:

1) getting fully vaccinated (which includes getting a booster shot when due), plus

2) strictly adhering to the COVID transmission suppression protocols.

The COVID transmission suppression protocols are:

  1. Individual COVID safe measures ( masking, physical distancing, avoiding crowds, hand hygiene), and
  2. Settings-based measures (social gathering restrictions, indoor capacity restrictions, ventilation, and curfews).

Following the Vaccine Plus Approach means that everyone has a role to play to protect ourselves from the current outbreak, as well as future outbreaks from other new variants that can arise. The approach means that the Ministry and Govt will provide the opportunity for all eligible Fijians to access safe and effective vaccines that protect us from severe diseases and deaths due to COVID-19. It also means that we take responsibility for adhering to the COVID transmission suppression protocols on an individual basis, as well as on a collective basis in all community settings we engage in – whether it is at work, in school, at our local house of worship, or during a traditional ceremony. The Vaccine Plus Approach means we are collectively and equally responsible for our protection and our health – not just the Ministry of Health or the frontliners!