805 new cases of COVID-19 have been reported since the last update on the 29th of December last year.
316 new cases were recorded on Thursday, 223 new cases on Friday and 266 new cases in the last 24 hours ending at 8 am yesterday.
Of the 805 cases recorded since the last update, 388 cases were recorded in the Northern Division; 134 cases were recorded in the Western Division, and 283 cases were recorded in the Central Division.
There are two COVID-19 deaths to report.
The first COVID-19 death is of a 67-year-old fully vaccinated man from Raiwaqa who died at home on 29th December in respiratory distress. He had a number of severe pre-existing medical conditions that have been assessed to also have contributed to his death.
The second COVID-19 death is of a 76-year-old fully vaccinated man from Nadawa who died at home on Friday in respiratory distress. He had a significant pre-existing medical condition that may have contributed to his death.
Permanent Secretary for Health Dr James Fong says while both these deaths occurred in individuals who have been immunized with 2 doses of the vaccine, they both had significant underlying medical conditions and were over the age of 50.
Dr Fong says it is known that these factors place a person at higher risk of severe disease, even if fully vaccinated.
He adds persons over the age of 50 and those who have underlying chronic diseases such as heart disease, kidney disease, lung diseases, etc. are strongly urged to come forward and have a booster dose of the vaccine to increase their protection from infection and severe disease.
Fiji has had a total of 700 deaths due to COVID-19 in Fiji, with 698 of these deaths during the outbreak that started in April last year.
The Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong says they would like to avoid population blanket measures such as lockdowns as they have also negatively impacted our communities on other fronts.
Dr Fong says in their own recent experience, such measures have limited scope in the control of the spread of COVID-19 in Fiji.
He says the overall goal of the Ministry’s COVID-19 pandemic response and recovery is to suppress ongoing community transmission to a level that will minimize hospitalization, severe illness, and deaths as well as minimize severe societal disruption.
Dr Fong says they are prioritizing the promotion of individual COVID safe measures such as vaccination, masking, physical distancing, avoiding crowds and hand hygiene followed by settings-based measures which include social gathering restrictions, indoor capacity restrictions, ventilation and curfew.
He says the immunity that has been built through vaccination and prior infection is evidently having a significant impact in reducing severe disease in this third wave.
The Permanent Secretary says they will continue to work towards suppressing community transmission because they know that even if the proportion of severe cases relative to all cases is less in this third wave, a smaller percentage of severe disease in a larger number of cases will still result in a large number of sick individuals admitted to hospital, which could still overwhelm the health system's capacity to manage.
He says for now they have a window of opportunity to prevent such an occurrence and this will entail adherence to COVID safe measures and having in place measures that ensure that all those vulnerable to severe disease are adequately monitored, tested, retrieved, and effectively managed in a timely manner before their conditions worsen.
Dr Fong adds the two COVID related deaths reported yesterday highlight the need for such vigilance in persons with significant underlying medical conditions, especially if they are elderly.
Permanent Secretary for Health Dr James Fong says they have discussed with the Ministry of Education the current plans for school opening and they support the planned reopening of schools scheduled for Tuesday.
Dr Fong says they have consulted with the World Health Organisation, and UNICEF, reviewed all the evidence and taken into account our current situation.
He says they will continue to monitor our community surveillance parameters and work with the Ministry of Education to facilitate the safe opening of schools.
Year 8 to 13 students will start school on Tuesday and Early Childhood Education to Year 7 students will start school on the 10th of January 2022.
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