Fiji reports record 94 cases, state sending positive patients home

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Suva Colonial War Memorial Hospital
Suva's Colonial War Memorial Hospital ... a full-time covid-care facility with tightly controlled movement into the institution. Image: FBC News

By Lice Movono, RNZ Pacific correspondent in Suva

A new daily record of covid-19 cases has been announced in Fiji as 94 new cases in 24 hours have been confirmed.

The Fiji government is now unable to isolate cases at its facilities, sending positive people home instead.

It has announced it was preparing to focus on caring for severely ill patients as opposed to its current strategy. It had hinted at this scenario early in this outbreak in the event the public health system would become overburdened.

Dr Fong, himself a primary contact of a colleague in the government’s Covid-19 Incident Management Team (IMT) who tested positive, said the majority of new cases was from transmission in closed indoor spaces.

Nine more members of the IMT have since tested positive too.

“Due to the high number of cases and constraints on quarantine capacity, new positive cases are being entered into home isolation, where feasible. Specific guidance has been provided for these individuals to ensure they do not have contact with other members of their households,” Dr Fong said.

“It is vital — particularly in multi-generational households — that the ministry’s home isolation protocols are strictly followed. While we will be regularly checking up on these individuals, adherence to our home isolation protocols within the household is critical at all times,” he said.

Shifting to mitigation
“Given the escalating numbers of new cases in the Lami-Nausori Containment zone, we are preparing to shift into a mitigation phase that ensures that healthcare resources are focused on caring for patients who develop severe illness as a result of the virus, to ensure that they can receive proper treatment and achieve the best possible outcome from the care.”

Permanent Secretary of Health, James Fong
Fiji’s Health Secretary Dr James Fong … “new positive cases are being entered into home isolation, where feasible.” Image: Fiji govt/RNZ

Dr Fong, himself a primary contact of a colleague in the government’s Covid-19 Incident Management Team (IMT) who tested positive, said the majority of new cases was from transmission in closed indoor spaces.

Nine more members of the IMT have since tested positive too.

“Due to the high number of cases and constraints on quarantine capacity, new positive cases are being entered into home isolation, where feasible. Specific guidance has been provided for these individuals to ensure they do not have contact with other members of their households,” Dr Fong said.

“It is vital – particularly in multi-generational households – that the ministry’s home isolation protocols are strictly followed. While we will be regularly checking up on these individuals, adherence to our home isolation protocols within the household is critical at all times,” he said.

“Given the escalating numbers of new cases in the Lami-Nausori Containment zone, we are preparing to shift into a mitigation phase that ensures that healthcare resources are focused on caring for patients who develop severe illness as a result of the virus, to ensure that they can receive proper treatment and achieve the best possible outcome from the care.”

Meanwhile, 28 of the new cases alone are from the capital Suva’s Colonial War Memorial Hospital (CWMH), which is now a dedicated covid-19 care facility.

The other new cases include 26 from Waila near Nausori town, 14 from Navosai in Nasinu Town, eight from Nawaka in Nadi, five from the Republic of Fiji Military Forces Naval division and three from its army base and one case is from Caubati just outside the capital city.

Third hospital death
Dr Fong reported the death of a patient at the CWMH in Suva but said that although the person had tested positive for covid-19, his death was not ruled the result of the virus.

This is the third such death from the country’s main hospital in less than a week.

“This individual was admitted in the CWM Hospital’s Acute Medical Ward and died Tuesday morning as a result of the medical condition for which he was initially admitted,” he said.

“While the individual did test positive for covid-19 during his admission at the hospital, we have not classified this as a covid death based on the assessment of his doctors, who have determined that he died due to complications of his chronic medical condition,” he said.

The CWMH cluster which has been the fastest growing transmission since it was discovered a week ago now continues to concern authorities as people recently discharged from the facility turn up positive cases in other districts.

This included two patients who were detected at the Valelevu Health Centre in Nasinu, the largest municipality in the country. That facility, an important part of the government’s infrastructure, is now temporarily closed for decontamination.

Four patients have recovered taking the total number of active cases to 604. There have been 775 cases since April 2021. Since the pandemic began in Fiji, there have been 845 cases and 234 recoveries and four deaths.

“Members of the public should avoid any situation that puts them into close quarters with others outside of their household or home bubble,” Dr Fong said.

“If you see a crowding situation, avoid it at all costs. Do not add to the problem. Even when you are masked, entering into close quarters with others can place you at grave risk.”

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

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