COVID-19 cases increase in Kadavu; Fiji reports 303 new cases and five deaths

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Positive COVID-19 infections in Kadavu, South of Fiji has increased with 85 new cases reported among the country’s 303 new cases announced Sunday.

The Western division has also reported increased infection numbers, accounting for 185 cases and 33 in the Central division.

Ministry of Health permanent secretary Dr James Fong also announced five COVID deaths that were reported from 19-22 August .

He said one death was reported in the Central Division and four in the Western Division.

“There have been 1468 new recoveries reported since the last update (August 21), which means that there are now 19,097 active cases – 10,252 active cases are in the Central Division, 8713 active cases in the Western Division, one active case in the Northern Division (Nabouwalu) and 131 active cases in the Eastern Division (all in Kadavu),” Dr Fong said.

The Ministry of Health’s clinical scoping team in Kadavu, has begun to put together a clinical response plan to help efficiently escalate its response to the expected wave of severe COVID-19 infections and deaths on the island.

And a key part of this response plan is to identify persons vulnerable to severe COVID and to “pre-emptively engage them in a care plan that allows early identification of danger symptoms and signs and access to clinical care in a timely manner”.

Dr Fong said the situation in Kadavu remained a major concern and they anticipated their plan would be a challenging exercise.

“Another important part of the response to mitigate severe disease will be community-wide engagement to establish specific plans that help maintain oversight over vulnerable persons, and facilitate their timely transfer to a health care facility when required,” Dr Fong said.

He said the public health team was also continuing with screening and isolation protocols.

Dr Fong has also reiterated calls for maritime islanders to refrain from engaging in any unauthorised travel to and from Viti Levu.

All the current protocols to regulate domestic movements must be adhered to in order to prevent spread of the virus beyond Viti levu, he said.

“We repeat our call to all village leaders and elders to support our current efforts to protect our maritime islands and to immediately report any suspicious movements into your community.”

Fiji has recorded 43,527 cases during the outbreak that started in April 2021; and 43,597 cases recorded since the first case was reported in March 2020, with 23,809 recoveries.

Dr Fong said there had been four more deaths of COVID-19 positive patients but their deaths have been classified as non-COVID deaths by their doctors.

There have now been 438 deaths due to COVID-19 in Fiji, with 436 of those deaths recorded during the outbreak that started in April this year.

Meanwhile, the Fijian Government is organising a national vaccine lottery to reward those who have been vaccinated, and encourage others to come forward.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama made this announcement last night, as he released the new curfew time of 7pm-4am, effective today, attributed to the 40 percent full vaccination coverage in the country.

“Once we fully vaccinate 50 percent of our target population, the curfew start time will be 8 pm;

“Fully vaccinating 60 percent of our target population will allow us to start the curfew at 9 pm and lift the containment area borders in Viti Levu;

“At the 70 percent threshold, the curfew will start at 10 pm, and once we fully vaccinate 80 percent of our target population, the curfew will start at 11 pm. Throughout this gradual rollback, the end time of the curfew will remain 4 am.

“I say that knowing that a curfew –– no matter what time it begins –– is not normal. There are not normal times. I assure you, our goal is to fully restore our freedom of movement and association. But the decision to lift the curfew altogether can only be taken when we have sustained time periods with very few deaths due to the virus. Just the same, other relaxations, including the re-opening of certain businesses and allowances for social gatherings, will be announced in step with the best available science.

“To reward people who have been vaccinated and encourage those who have not yet been vaccinated, we are organising a national vaccine lottery, with some great prizes we’ll announce soon,” Bainimarama said.

“But remember, this is all about winning together, and the ultimate prize is the lives we’ll save.

“We can do this, Fiji. I know that we can. We can save lives.

“We can re-open all of our businesses, micro, small, medium, and larger, and return more people to their jobs.

“We can open up our tourism sector. We can reopen to the world.

“And we can reclaim the strong Fijian economy that we built together over many years.”

Bainimarama urged the Fijian public to personally reach out and encourage those who had yet to be vaccinated to do so, to be the voice of reason and compassion that compelled them to protect themselves and others.

“You could save their life or the life of another because the more of us are vaccinated the more all of us are protected.”

As of Sunday, 92.6 percent of eligible adults in Fiji –– 543,318 individuals in total –– have received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 40 percent of that target population is fully vaccinated.

SOURCE: PACNEWS/FIJI TIMES