Pleas for Fijians to take covid-19 more seriously with 274 more cases

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Fiji Health Secretary Dr James Fong 010721
Fiji Health Secretary Dr James Fong ... back in quarantine. Image: RNZ/Fiji govt

RNZ Pacific

Health authorities in Fiji have confirmed 274 infections of covid-19 in the 24-hour period ending at 8am today as they have warned people to take the pandemic more seriously.

Health Secretary Dr James Fong told a media conference last night he was back in quarantine after coming into contact with a positive patient.

Earlier this month, Dr Fong was in isolation as a potential primary contact for another medical team member.

Making reference to the ministry’s online map, he said Viti Levu was now in a situation of community transmission where there are cases throughout the Central Division.

“As we’ve made clear throughout the week, our cases are climbing and we are expecting that the daily case average will continue to rise, including an increase in individuals suffering severe covid-19,” Dr Fong said.

He said they had also identified a new area of concern in Rifle Range, Lautoka. This had followed a cluster of new cases stemming from a birthday party with more than 14 people in attendance from various locations in Lautoka.

No new deaths
Dr Fong said while there were no new deaths to be reported, there had been three tragic deaths during this latest outbreak which started in April.

He said the deaths had occurred before the medical teams could offer any treatment. One patient died at home and two others were declared dead-on-arrival at the hospital.

Dr Fong urged anyone experiencing flu-like symptoms to “please report to your nearest screening clinic now.”

The health ministry’s highest priority is to provide life-saving treatment, he said.

“Over the next few weeks as the case numbers increase, the isolation facilities will get tested. Only severe cases will be at the isolation facilities, others will be in-home isolation.”

Provided groceries
Those in-home isolation will be provided groceries and other essentials, Dr Fong said.

“165 is the number to call if you need to be taken to a Covid-19 Care Centre. A new intermediate facility is being set up at the National Gymnasium in Suva.”

Dr Fong said they are bracing for a wave of new cases in the next four to five days.

“The ideal place to get swabbed if you believe you have symptoms is the screening clinics.”

While 50 percent of the target population had received their first jab, Dr Fong said he was concerned at those still opposing the vaccine.

“This is a new vaccine because this is a new disease and it can defeat this virus.”

Official announcements
Meanwhile, all official announcements regarding the government’s covid-19 response efforts will only be made by the Health Ministry.

This comes amid wide circulation of a fake advisory of the change in curfew hours via social media.

In a statement, the National Disasters Management Office (NDMO) urged the public to disregard all false and misleading posts as such.

“Stop spreading misinformation and continue to adhere to all covid-19 safety measures and protocols in place,” the NDMO said.

Earlier, police issued a statement saying any changes made would be announced to the public.

As for now, the curfew from 10pm to 4am (local time) for containment zones and some parts of the country remains unchanged, police chief Rusiate Tudravu said.

Plea to follow rules
He pleaded with the public to continue to adhere to the health restrictions in place.

More than 1,000 people, mostly intoxicated, have been arrested for breach of curfew and health-related restrictions.

Tudravu said some people were arrested for drinking kava.

Police will continue to monitor and enforce these restrictions, he said.

Fiji now has 3,503 positive people in isolation with 19 deaths reported since this latest outbreak started in mid-April.

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

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