Media statement

Statement by Head of Health Protection

Last Updated on 1 month by Publishing Team

Statement by Head of Health Protection
23 June 2021
 
Transmission Update
 
As announced by the Permanent Secretary we have recorded 279 new cases in the 24 hour period ending at 8.00 am today. Our highest daily case count so far. Out of these cases, 46 are from existing containment zones or quarantine facilities in Nadi: 22 of these from Nawajikuma, 8 are from Tramline, and 16 are close contacts in quarantine facilities. The remaining 233 cases are from the Lami-Nausori Containment Zone. A list of areas of concern has been published on the Ministry’s COVID-19 dashboard and on the Fijian Government Facebook page. You can also view the approximate locations of the new cases on the Ministry’s dashboard http://bit.ly/3vE2ZBb
 
There have now been 13 deaths due to COVID-19 in Fiji, with 11 of these deaths during the outbreak that started in April this year. We also have recorded 8 COVID-19 positive patients that died from pre-existing non-COVID-19 related illnesses.
 
There have been 18 recoveries reported since the last update, which means that there are now 1892 active cases in isolation. There have been 2479 cases during the outbreak that started in April 2021. We have recorded a total of 2549 cases in Fiji since the first case was reported in March 2020, with 636 recoveries.
 
Testing Update
 
A total of 135,520 samples have been tested since this outbreak started in April 2021, with 178,381 tested since testing began in early 2020. 2759 tests have been reported for June 21st. The national 7-day daily test average is 2939 tests per day or 3.3 tests per 1000 population. The national 7-day average daily test positivity is 4.9% and continues on an upward trend.
 
Vaccination Update
 
We have now administered first doses to 262,151 individuals since the beginning of the vaccination campaign and second doses to 27,654. 45% of Fijians have received one dose, and 5% have received the second dose.
 
Epidemic Outlook
 
The 7 day average of new cases per day has increased to 166 cases per day or 187 cases per million population per day.
 
The increasing numbers of cases in the Lami-Suva-Nausori containment zone clearly indicate widespread community transmission. And the large number of cases in Qauia Lami will further drive up cases. There are also clusters in Naitasiri and one cluster in Korovou.
 
There continue to be cases reported in Nadi, but so far they are from within the containment zone in the Nawajikuma and Tramline containment area.
 
Two cases from the same family were detected in Lautoka, as announced yesterday – the last time Lautoka had a case was on May 9th.
 
To date, this outbreak appears contained to Viti Levu, with the Northern and Eastern divisions yet to detect a case.
 
Today we have reported a record number of cases, and this has been happening regularly over the last week. And the daily case numbers will continue to increase. What we warned would happen when this outbreak started around 2 months ago is happening. How many more cases a day can we expect? We are working on mathematical modelling with WHO to give us a projection. But if we look at other countries: India at the peak of the outbreak that happened in May went to 280 cases per million population per day, the United Kingdom at the peak of their outbreak were at over 800 per million population per day. Right now we are at 187 cases per million population per day, which is 166 cases per day. If our daily cases rise to a peak similar to the UK, we should expect approx. 700 cases per day at a 7-day average.
 
But beyond the cases, what we worry about most is the severe cases that require hospitalization and deaths. As the cases have risen, it has largely overwhelmed our contact tracing capacity in the Lami-Suva-Nausori zone. This has happened in every other country that has faced this number of cases relative to their population. We still continue to contact trace and implement targeted lockdowns, like what is currently happening in Qauia, to try and slow the progress of the outbreak. All of us are still here working, 7 days a week, we are not giving up.
 
But what we are most concerned about is the next wave. The wave of people with severe illness requiring hospitalization and the deaths that will come with it. We have just started to see the beginning of that wave now. We reported 4 new COVID-19 deaths today and we have 9 patients currently admitted at CWM Hospital with severe COVID-19, including a previously well 30-year-old.
Our concern has always been the impact of this wave on all of us, but also on our medical facilities. Our hospitals are not overwhelmed. But if that wave comes, if our hospitals are full of COVID-19 patients needing treatment for severe disease, that will mean that people suffering from other medical conditions, accident victims may also struggle to get treatment. We have seen this happen in other countries.
 
But we are not helpless. We have a very important tool right now that the world did not have last year when the pandemic started- an effective vaccine. We know that the Oxford- AstraZeneca vaccine works very well to prevent severe disease from the very same variant that is causing our outbreak – the Delta variant. We have very clear evidence on this from the United Kingdom where they have found that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is 92% effective against hospitalisation after 2 doses.
 
And other than getting vaccinated every one of us can still take the measures we should all know about by now: Stay home as much as possible, if you have to leave the house, wear a mask, make sure you have your careFIJI app on if you have a smartphone, keep at least 2 metres between yourself and others outside your household. Avoid crowds, and crowded confined places. Taking these simple steps will help to protect yourselves and your loved ones from getting COVID-19.