Fiji imposes new lockdowns on Vanua Levu after virus cases rise to 17

Fiji contact tracing
Contact tracing in Fiji ... Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says teams will widen their testing to all close contacts of the 17 confirmed cases. Image: Wansolwara/Fiji Government FB

By Wansolwara News

A 21-year-old man on Fiji’s Vanua Levu island has tested positive for the Covid-19 novel coronavirus, taking the total number of cases in the country to 17.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said the man was a relative and travelling companion of case nine. He said they travelled together from India to Singapore and on to Fiji.

The latest positive test follows last week’s confirmed case of the nine-year-old granddaughter of case nine.

“Since his return to Fiji, this young man (case 17) has not shown a single symptom of the virus. You will recall our original case definition for virus testing required that patients display symptoms,” Bainimarama said.

“Upon returning to the country from overseas, this young man was in self-quarantine for two full weeks, up until April 5. Free of any symptoms throughout the virus’s known two-week incubation period, by all appearances, he was in the clear.

“But as experts have unveiled more about the insidious nature of this virus, and our understanding of the disease has evolved, the way we define and contain cases must evolve as well.”

The Prime Minister said the tracing teams would widen their testing to all close contacts of the confirmed cases from this week, regardless of whether they displayed symptoms.

Immediate isolation
He said this was how case 17 had been identified and immediately taken into isolation along with close contacts in separate isolation facilities.

“We are now extending the quarantine period to a full 28 days, both for anyone who is newly-quarantined and to those who currently are waiting out their initial 14-day period,” Bainimarama said.

“Our contact tracing stemming from this latest case has revealed the need for additional lockdowns on Vanua Levu. The Vunicagi Settlement between Nabowalu and Labasa will be locked down for the next 28 days.

“The settlement lies along a short stretch of vital highway which vehicles will still be allowed to traverse under 24/7 police monitoring, as no alternate routes into Labasa exist. However, no passengers will be allowed to disembark or embark: No one in and no one out.”

Lockdown of the Soasoa settlement would also be extended another 14 days, in line with the 28-day quarantine policy.

Given the continued risk of transmission on Vanua Levu, the Prime Minister said the ban on interisland travel by air and sea remained in effect.

Meanwhile, the 16 patients living with coronavirus are in stable condition.

The University of the South Pacific’s Wansolwara student journalism team are in partnership with AUT’s Pacific Media Centre.

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