There are 9 new COVID-19 deaths bringing the total number of COVID-19 deaths recorded since confirmation of the third wave to 33.
The death rates for the Central, Western, and Northern Divisions are indicating an upward trend.
The Permanent Secretary for Health, Dr. James Fong says the first COVID-19 death is a 72-year-old fully vaccinated woman from the Northern Division who died on arrival at Savusavu Hospital.
The second death is a 87-year-old woman from the Northern Division who died at home. She was not vaccinated.
The third COVID-19 death is a 86-year-old man from the Central Division who died at home. He was not vaccinated.
The fourth death is a 47-year-old man from the Central Division who died at home. He had a pre-existing medical condition and was fully vaccinated.
The fifth COVID-19 death is a 81-year-old man from the Western Division who died at the Lautoka hospital. He had multiple pre-existing conditions and was fully vaccinated.
The sixth death is a 73-year-old man from the Western Division who died on arrival at the Lautoka Hospital. He had multiple pre-existing medical conditions and was not vaccinated.
The seventh COVID-19 death is a 80-year-old man from the Central Division who died on arrival at Nausori Health Centre. He was fully vaccinated.
The eighth death is a 60-year-old man from the Central Division who died at home. He was fully vaccinated.
The ninth death is a 60-year-old woman from the Northern Division who died at home. She had pre-existing medical conditions and was not vaccinated.
733 new cases of COVID-19 have been recorded since the 12th of this month.
The Permanent Secretary for Health, Dr. James Fong says of the 733 cases recorded since the last update, 349 cases were recorded in the Central Division, 336 cases were recorded in the Western Division and 48 cases were recorded in the Northern Division.
He says there is an upward trend in hospitalizations in the Western and Central Divisions.
248 people are currently admitted in hospitals due to COVID-19.
Dr. Fong says 80% of the admissions of COVID-19 positive patients are categorized as asymptomatic and mild, 9% are categorized as moderate and 10% as severe with 2 cases in the critical category.
He adds a significant number of people are admitted in the hospital for non-covid health conditions, but incidentally test positive due to the high transmission in the community.
Permanent Secretary for Health, Dr. James Fong says they have not recorded any admissions in the paediatric age group to date for COVID-19 however, if community transmission is not suppressed, the number of paediatric COVID-19 cases could rise and they are recommending that families mask up, avoid crowded spaces and get all eligible kids vaccinated fully.
He says in Fiji, the total number of positive cases recorded in this 3rd wave is 6,520.
Dr. Fong says whilst this is an underestimate of the actual number of cases, from this sample, 337 or 5% are in the paediatric age group (under the age of 15) and this finding is consistent with the experience expressed by their medical staff.
He says they have 57 COVID-19 positive paediatric admissions so far, and in all the cases, the COVID positive test was incidental to the reason for admission.
He says this means these children were admitted for other medical conditions and just happened to test positive for COVID-19, as all admissions to the hospital are tested.
Meanwhile, Dr. Fong says he wants to clarify his earlier comments on the minimal risk to children in response to feedback received by the Ministry on the reopening of schools.
Dr. Fong says in the first instance, a number of higher-quality studies have found minimal to no impact of school closures and reopening on community transmission of the disease.
He says within households, children and young people transmit SARS-CoV-2 infection at similar levels to adults however, the studies also show that secondary attack rates from children are lower in school settings than in households, particularly when mitigations are in place.
Dr. Dong says furthermore, the international experience is that while children do get hospitalized with COVID-19, many of these children are not in the hospital for COVID-19 but instead incidentally tested positive when admitted for other health issues.
He says severe illness in children remains rare, and even hospitalized children tend to recover well and this has recently been highlighted in a statement by the United Kingdom’s Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.
Dr. Fong says the United Kingdom’s Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health have said it is important to note that paediatricians are not reporting Omicron to be a more serious or severe disease in children and young people in the UK and they are also reassured to hear those very few children and young people admitted to hospital with Omicron are needing paediatric intensive care.
Permanent Secretary for Health, Dr. James Fong says their booster dose deployment program has been slowed down by the urgent need to safeguard the welfare of their medical staff by ensuring that they get some rest and attend to urgent family needs.
Dr. Fong says the current weather conditions have slowed down their vaccine deployment efforts however, as of this week, they are now able to deploy more personnel into the field to boost their vaccination teams.
He also confirms the Ministry of Health has almost completed preparations to facilitate the deployment of Pfizer doses both as booster doses for adults over 18 years of age and for children above 12 years of age.
Dr. Fong confirms they have 142,240 people due to receive the booster dose, of which 48,518 have been vaccinated.
He says their current stocks of the Moderna vaccine, which is being used as the booster dose, are in excess of 100,000 doses and they are also expecting more of the Pfizer vaccine by the middle of this month.
Permanent Secretary for Health, Dr. James Fong says they are exploring options to transition from hotel stay to home-stay for travellers from travel partner countries.
Dr. Fong says this will require a broad network of private partners who can provide rapid testing sites that can track those that need to be tested and facilitate timely reporting of all results and defaulters.
He says until they get to that stage, they request all incoming travellers to remain patient and if they find the current arrangement too inconvenient, they may wish to defer their travel to Fiji to a later date.
Dr. Fong adds they are also reminding all outgoing travellers that they need a vaccine certificate to travel out of Fiji and this needs to be submitted at least 7 days prior to travel.
He further says the positivity rate among travellers remains low and they continue to support international travel through the mitigation measures outlined in the current protocol for travel partner and non-travel partner countries.
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