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Fiji has five more border quarantine confirmed cases of COVID-19 taking the total to eight.
The five new cases were confirmed by Ministry of Health acting permanent secretary Dr James Fong in a press conference Friday.
All eight cases are in stable condition.
“Today, based on the result of those tests, the Ministry of Health and Medical Services is announcing five new border quarantine cases of COVID-19.
“This brings to a total of eight border quarantine cases announced since Monday, 6th July –– all are repatriated Fijian citizens arriving off the same flight from India that landed in Nadi on July 1st.
“All the passengers on the flight have been kept under strict border quarantine conditions from the moment they arrived, including in government designated quarantine facilities where they are supervised by the Republic of Fiji Military Forces and screened daily by staff from the Ministry of Health and Medical Services
“The five border quarantine cases announced today are a 44-year-old male, 38-year-old female,51-year-old male, 29-year-old female, and 47-year-old male. One is the husband of a border quarantine case announced earlier this week,” Dr Fong told journalist in Suva.
Dr Fong said four of the cases have no symptoms, and one has mild symptoms.
“All have been securely transferred to the Nadi or Lautoka Hospital isolation facilities.
“I will again re-emphasise here: so long as our border quarantine and infection prevention control protocols are upheld there is no risk to the Fijian public from these latest border quarantine cases.
However, as an additional precaution, support staff in these facilities are being tested for COVID-19 on a regular basis. The protocols to prevent transmission between the latest border quarantine cases and the support staff in the quarantine facilities have been upheld – there has been no breach,” he said.
Dr Fong also reassured the public that, there wasn’t any “slip up” in Fiji’s quarantine protocols.
“Since the introduction of compulsory quarantine we have taken into account the need to replicate quarantine conditions in alternative sites for serious medical reasons. The process to replicate these quarantine conditions is extremely strict, with RFMF and MoHMS surveillance taking place directly at the home quarantine site.
“Only when it is medically necessary do we commit the time and resource to allow individuals to safely complete their 14 days of quarantine in such an environment. But no matter what, the 14-day requirement still applies –– no exceptions,” Dr Fong stressed.
Dr Fong also confirmed that the 162 soldiers who returned earlier from their peacekeeping duties in Sinai continue to be tested negative.
“The Republic of Fiji Military Forces personnel that arrived in Fiji on Saturday 27th June will complete their 14 days of quarantine in a government designated facility this weekend.
“They were tested for COVID-19 soon after arrival in Fiji – with all testing negative.
“They will all be tested again: requiring a second negative test result before being cleared for release from quarantine. It’s certainly been a long journey back to Fiji for our returning forces, but bringing our troops home and reuniting them with their family members is well worth every measure of effort we’ve given.
“The same goes for all of our citizens who we are safely returning to Fiji from overseas.
“By doing so, we are doing more than just proving our systems can support the safe repatriation of our fellow Fijians –– we are proving that we are a nation that does not turn its back on its own people.
“The Ministry of Health and Medical Services will continue to work closely with the RFMF and the border control teams at our ports of entry, to ensure that our border control measures remain firm and the systems and processes for the checking and clearance of quarantine individuals are working well.
Be rest assured, Fiji is still a COVID-Contained country,” Dr Fong stressed.
Almost 4, 000 Fijians have gone through the quarantine process since it started in March.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health is working closely with the tourism operators to ensure all staff serving at the government-mandated quarantine facilities follow protocols and avoid direct contact with the guests.
These workers are closely monitored by health inspectors and have been advised to always practice physical distancing, hand hygiene and other measures to prevent the spread of the virus.
Health Minister Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete says Fijians serving in these quarantine facilities have been well trained on the procedures they need to follow in their line of duty.
“We have health inspectors that actually stay there and making sure we are following all that. We also make sure that simple things and operational issues like green zones, amber zones, red zones and don’t go zones so they completely understand what they need to do”.
With COVID-19 being fairly new, Dr Waqainabete says they are continuing to build their experience and expertise to ensure ‘border quarantine cases’ are contained.
“Because we’ve had no case in the quarantine facility till now they were able to go back home now that we have a case we’ve started testing them also just to be sure but so far none has shown any symptoms. It’s never seeked out into the community so I think we need to make sure that we alleviate the anxiety in the community at large. We have no community transmission of COVID-19 and we’ve had the lifting of the restrictions”.
The Health Ministry says they are committed in their effort to contain all ‘border quarantine cases’ and make sure it does not spread to the community..
In another development, Fiji’s track record in containing COVID-19 continues to put the destination in a strong position to reassure international visitors that it will be a safe destination to visit when borders reopen.
According to Tourism Fiji, the importance of developing a “destination-wide” programme to communicate Fiji’s achievement in containing COVID-19, and showcase the safety measures in place to keep international visitors safe when international travel resumes to the destination.
“We are well progressed with this initiative and working with the Tourism Response Team and COVID-19 Risk Mitigation Taskforce to finalise the programme,” Tourism Fiji chief executive officer Matt Stoeckel said.
“We look forward to sharing it with you once it’s complete,” he added.
The Ministry of Health and Medical Services declared that there was no threat to the community associated with those cases because they were already in a Government-monitored quarantine facility..
SOURCE: PACNEWS/FBC NEWS/FIJI TIMES
Pacific Islands News Association
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International News Safety Institute (INSI)
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