Current increase in COVID-19 cases represents the beginning of the third wave of COVID-19 in Fiji - Dr Fong
Doctor Fong confirms we have the Omicron variant of COVID-19 in the community

Current increase in COVID-19 cases represents the beginning of the third wave of COVID-19 in Fiji - Dr Fong

Doctor Fong confirms we have the Omicron variant of COVID-19 in the community

By fijivillage
Wednesday 02/03/2022

Doctor Fong confirms we have the Omicron variant of COVID-19 in the community as cases continue to rise during this 3rd wave of COVID-19 in Fiji.

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Thu 30th December


FULL STORY: Current increase in COVID-19 cases represents the beginning of the third wave of COVID-19 in Fiji - Dr Fong

By Semi Turaga
Thursday 30/12/2021
Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong.

Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong says their assessment is that the current increase in COVID-19 cases represents the beginning of the third wave of COVID-19 in Fiji.

He says this may be a resurgence of the endemic Delta variant however they are also working on the assumption that the Omicron variant is already here and is being transmitted within the community.

Doctor Fong adds they expect that genomic sequencing results of COVID-19 positive samples sent overseas will confirm this in due course.

The Permanent Secretary for Health further says should this wave be driven by the Omicron variant, based on what they are seeing overseas, they should expect a large number of cases and they will also expect that infections will occur in vaccinated persons and those who have previously been infected with the Delta variant.

He adds it is important to remember that those who are vaccinated or had booster doses are far less likely to become sick enough to require hospitalization.

Doctor Fong says the main focus of the vaccination program is to prevent severe illness and death which will also help to limit the strain on our medical services.

He adds the three divisional hospitals are reporting an increase in positive cases admitted to the hospital, however, none of the cases so far are presenting with COVID-related medical problems.

Doctor Fong says they are being admitted for other medical conditions and are testing positive during mandatory testing for all admissions to the hospital.

He stresses that the overall goal of the Health Ministry COVID-19 pandemic response and recovery has always been to minimize severe illness and deaths.

He says this goal remains, along with reducing severe societal disruption as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the priority is the promotion of individual COVID safe measures which is vaccination, masking, physical distancing, avoiding crowds and hand hygiene followed by settings-based measures such as social gathering restrictions, indoor capacity restrictions, ventilation, and curfews.

Doctor Fong further adds they intend to avoid population blanket measures, like lockdowns, as much as possible as, almost two years into the pandemic, such measures are damaging to the community on many different levels and in our own recent experience, have limited value in controlling the spread of COVID-19 in Fiji.

He says with more than 91% of adults in Fiji vaccinated, plus added immunity expected due to the large number of people that were infected during the last wave on Viti Levu, we are no longer the COVID-naive population that we were before.

Doctor Fong adds the immunity that has been built through vaccination, and prior infection, is expected to have a significant impact on reducing severe disease in this next wave.


Fully vaccinated man who died from COVID-19 last Saturday had pre-existing conditions

By Semi Turaga
Thursday 30/12/2021
Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong.

The fully vaccinated man from Tailevu who is the latest COVID-19 death confirmed by the Health Ministry had pre-existing conditions.

He was 62-years-old and died at home with severe respiratory distress last Saturday.

The Health Ministry confirms that this man received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on 14th April this year and his second dose on 23rd July this year.

There have been 698 deaths due to COVID-19 in Fiji, with 696 of these deaths during the outbreak that started in April this year.

Read full story here



309 new cases of COVID-19 with 194 in the last 24 hrs

316 new cases in the North in the last 7 days
By Semi Turaga
Thursday 30/12/2021
Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong.

COVID-19 cases reported by the Health Ministry continue to increase with 309 new cases confirmed in the latest update.

115 new cases were recorded on Tuesday and 194 new cases in the last 24 hours ending at 8am yesterday.

Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong says in the past 7 days until the 28th of this month, 85 cases were recorded in the Central division, 74 new cases in the Western division, 1 new case in the Eastern Division and 316 new cases in the Northern Division.

He says the Central Division cases constitute 71% of the cumulative total cases nationally with the Western division making up 27%, 1% in the Northern Division and 1% in the Eastern Division.

Of the 194 cases recorded in the last 24 hours, 136 cases were recorded in the Northern Division; 6 cases were recorded in the Western Division including 4 cases from border quarantine, 46 cases recorded in the Central Division and 6 cases recorded in the Eastern Division.

There were 271 tests reported for December 28th, 2021.

Doctor Fong says the 7-day daily test average is 301 tests per day or 0.3 tests per 1,000 population.

He confirms the national 7-day average daily test positivity is 31.5%.

Read Full Story here



92.1% of the adult target population fully vaccinated so far

By Rashika Kumar
Thursday 30/12/2021
[Image: File Photo]

92.1% of the adult target population in Fiji is now fully vaccinated while 97.8% of the target population have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

This means 569,351 adults have received both doses of the vaccine while 604,342 adults have received one dose of the vaccine.

29,297 children between the ages of 15 to 17 are fully vaccinated while 36,643 children have received at least one jab.

10,657 children between the ages of 12 to 14 are fully vaccinated while 21,649 children have received at least one shot.





Health Ministry assessing whether the increase in COVID-19 cases is being driven by a resurgence of the Delta variant or the new Omicron variant

I am confident Omicron is already around – Dr Fong
By Semi Turaga
Thursday 30/12/2021
Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong. Photo: Ministry of Health

The Health Ministry is now assessing whether the current increase in COVID-19 cases is being driven by a resurgence of the endemic Delta variant or the new and highly transmissible Omicron variant.

They are also working on the assumption that the Omicron variant is already here and is being transmitted within the community.

The Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong says they expect that genomic sequencing results of COVID-19 positive samples sent overseas will confirm this in due course.

He further says should this wave be driven by the Omicron variant, based on what they are seeing overseas, they should expect a large number of cases and they will also expect that infections will occur in vaccinated persons and those who have previously been infected with the Delta variant.

He adds it is important to remember that those who are vaccinated or had booster doses are far less likely to become sick enough to require hospitalization.

Doctor Fong says the main focus of the vaccination program is to prevent severe illness and death which will also help to limit the strain on our medical services.

He adds the three divisional hospitals are reporting an increase in positive cases admitted to the hospital, however, none of the cases so far are presenting with COVID-related medical problems.

Doctor Fong says they are being admitted for other medical conditions and are testing positive during mandatory testing for all admissions to the hospital.

He stresses that the overall goal of the Health Ministry COVID-19 pandemic response and recovery has always been to minimize severe illness and deaths.

Speaking in Labasa, Doctor Fong says he is confident that Omicron is around, he just needs the tests to confirm it.

He says this goal remains, along with reducing severe societal disruption as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the priority is the promotion of individual COVID safe measures which is vaccination, masking, physical distancing, avoiding crowds and hand hygiene followed by settings-based measures such as social gathering restrictions, indoor capacity restrictions, ventilation, and curfews.

Doctor Fong further adds they intend to avoid population blanket measures, like lockdowns, as much as possible as, almost two years into the pandemic, such measures are damaging to the community on many different levels and in our own recent experience, have limited value in controlling the spread of COVID-19 in Fiji.

He says with more than 91% of adults in Fiji vaccinated, plus added immunity expected due to the large number of people that were infected during the last wave on Viti Levu, we are no longer the COVID-naive population that we were before.

Doctor Fong adds the immunity that has been built through vaccination, and prior infection is expected to have a significant impact on reducing severe disease in this next wave.



70% of people screened in a clinic in Labasa tested positive for COVID-19 – Dr Fong

Health Ministry expecting cases in the maritime islands
By Semi Turaga
Thursday 30/12/2021
Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong. Photo: Fijian Government

The Health Ministry is expecting COVID-19 cases to be reported in the maritime islands given the opening of maritime travel and the many social media postings of crowding in maritime vessels and social gatherings.

Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong says these maritime islands and the Northern Division were largely spared during the Delta outbreak that affected Viti Levu earlier this year.

Doctor Fong who is in Vanua Levu says he can see that there is already a substantial amount of community transmission in the North.

He says he went to a screening clinic and saw that about 70% of the people screened in that clinic tested positive for COVID-19.

Doctor Fong says if 70% of people that were screened in that clinic tested positive for COVID-19 then he would presume that there are a lot of COVID positive people walking around the Northern Division right now.

He says the main advantage in these islands and the Northern Division is that more than 80% of the adult population have been vaccinated plus a significant number of children above 15.

Doctor Fong adds they have also been recently vaccinated and as such waning immunity may be less of an issue.

He further says therefore they expect that there is a high level of protection against severe disease and hospitalization in the Northern Division and maritime islands.

Doctor Fong has revealed that medical teams and supplies are being set up and prepositioned for deployment to maritime islands.



Dr Fong says they are looking at making some changes to some of the COVID-safe restrictions like having earlier curfew times

By Semi Turaga
Thursday 30/12/2021
Photo: Fiji Police Force

Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong says they are looking at making some changes to some of the COVID-safe restrictions like having earlier curfew times.

He says now more than ever, the most important thing will be the individual COVID safe measures we take.

COVID-19 cases reported by the Health Ministry continue to increase with 309 new cases confirmed in the latest update.

115 new cases were recorded on Tuesday and 194 new cases in the last 24 hours ending at 8am yesterday.



Schools to open as scheduled – Kumar

Minister says if the situation changes, she will make an appropriate announcement
By Naveel Krishant
Thursday 30/12/2021

The Minister for Education Premila Kumar confirms that schools will open as advised earlier.

Year 8 to 13 will start school next Tuesday while Early Childhood Education to Year 7 will start on 10th January 2022.

Kumar says they are having daily discussions with the Ministry of Health, WHO and UNICEF and if the situation changes, she will make an appropriate announcement.

Kumar says right now, the Ministry of Education, Heads of Schools and teachers are preparing schools for re-opening and also stand ready to implement any additional measures that may be brought in by the Ministry of Health.

Kumar is urging parents and students to take heed of the advisories issued by the Health Ministry.

The Minister adds some parents are saying that they don't want to send their children to school.

She says she can only say that they can't force them to send their children to school and it's their decision.

Kumar also says the majority of the parents want their children to get back to school.

She further adds the Ministry places a strong emphasis on education and would not want to compromise children's education through longer school closure.

Kumar says the decision to open schools or any other decision on schools will be made based on scientific data and advice from the Ministry of Health and Medical Services, WHO and UNICEF with whom the Ministry is liaising very closely.

She went on to say that she also expects the media to be responsible and report accurately rather than negatively hyping issues that are not relevant.

Kumar adds at this time, in particular, we all need to come together and ensure that correct information reaches the public, teachers, parents and students.

She stresses that every citizen has to be responsible for their own safety and the safety of those around them.

The Minister emphasised that everyone should observe COVID-Safe measures at all times and get their booster shots as soon as possible.

She adds parents are encouraged to get their children fully vaccinated.


Parents concerned about schools reopening despite increase in COVID cases throughout the country

By Iva Danford
Thursday 30/12/2021
Photo: Save the Children Fiji

Some parents have raised concerns about the rush to reopen schools as COVID-19 cases continue to increase in all divisions.

Javed Khan of Bulileka in Labasa says both of his children are not eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine and with the increase in number of cases, school reopening should be postponed.

Khan says there are more parents like him that have the fear of their children contracting the virus.

He says he will not be sending his children to school until they get both their jabs.

Another parent, Mumtaz Bano of Tabia in Labasa says she is really worried.

Bano says lives matter and there should be some thought process going on about the children before anything is confirmed.

Another concerned parent in Suva says she is not ready to send her child to school.

Susana Bulamaibau says her 8-year-old daughter is not eligible for the vaccine and she does not want to risk her from getting infected.

Meanwhile the Minister for Education Premila Kumar has confirmed that Year 8 to 13 will start school next Tuesday while Early Childhood Education to Year 7 will start on 10th January 2022, as earlier advised.


Schools to open as scheduled – Kumar

Minister says if the situation changes, she will make an appropriate announcement

By: Naveel Krishant

Students-in-classes-sm

The Minister for Education Premila Kumar confirms that schools will open as advised earlier.

Year 8 to 13 will start school next Tuesday while Early Childhood Education to Year 7 will start on 10th January 2022.

Kumar says they are having daily discussions with the Ministry of Health , WHO and UNICEF and if the situation changes, she will make an appropriate announcement.

Kumar says right now, the Ministry of Education, Heads of Schools and teachers are preparing schools for re-opening and also stand ready to implement any additional measures that may be brought in by the Ministry of Health.

Kumar is urging parents and students to take heed of the advisories issued by the Health Ministry.

The Minister adds some parents are saying that they don't want to send their children to school.

She says she can only say that they can't force them to send their children to school and it's their decision.

Kumar also says the majority of the parents want their children to get back to school.

She further adds the Ministry places a strong emphasis on education and would not want to compromise children's education through longer school closure.

Kumar says the decision to open schools or any other decision on schools will be made based on scientific data and advice from the Ministry of Health and Medical Services, WHO and UNICEF with whom the Ministry is liaising very closely.

She went on to say that she also expects the media to be responsible and report accurately rather than negatively hyping issues that are not relevant.

Kumar adds at this time, in particular, we all need to come together and ensure that correct information reaches the public, teachers, parents and students.

She stresses that every citizen has to be responsible for their own safety and the safety of those around them.

The Minister emphasised that everyone should observe COVID-Safe measures at all times and get their booster shots as soon as possible.

She adds parents are encouraged to get their children fully vaccinated.



Fri 31st December


Research is showing that schools are not the super-spreaders of COVID – Premila Kumar

In Fiji there are more than 200,000 children who have lost an estimated 1050 hours each of in person learning since April - UNICEF
By Naveel Krishant
Friday 31/12/2021
UNICEF’s Pacific Deputy Representative Vathinee Jitjaturunt and Education Minister Premila Kumar

Education Minister Premila Kumar says research is showing that schools are not the super-spreaders of COVID-19.

As Year 8 to 13 students will start school next Tuesday and Early Childhood Education to Year 7 students will start school on the 10th of January 2022, Kumar says in-fact the virus comes from the community to the schools.

Many parents have contacted fijivillage and raised concerns about schools reopening despite the increase in COVID cases throughout the country.

The Education Minister also says the question is whether the children are safer in schools or at home and that is the comparison she is trying to show.

She adds that if the children are back in school there are lot more gains as compared to being at home.

Kumar further says that Fiji is not the only country that is re-opening schools.

She says they will be guided by the Health Ministry, UNICEF and WHO.

Kumar says they are having daily discussions with the Ministry of Health, WHO and UNICEF and if the situation changes, she will make an appropriate announcement.

The UNICEF’s Pacific Deputy Representative, Vathinee Jitjaturunt says in Fiji there are more than 200,000 children who have lost an estimated 1050 hours each of in-person learning since April.

She says the latest evidence has so far indicated that in-person schooling does not appear to be the main driver of community transmission and school starts do not appear to be a higher relative risk compared to the general population.

Jitjaturunt adds that UNICEF supports the Education Ministry’s announcement to re-open schools and allow learning in safe school environment.

She says they hope that 2022 cannot be yet another year of disrupted learning, it needs to be the year that education and best interest of children take precedent.

Meanwhile, 29,297 children aged between 15-17 years are fully vaccinated while 10,657 children aged 12-14 years have received both doses of a COVID vaccine.




Blatant disregard of COVID-19 safe measures in Labasa

By Mohammed Feroz, Semi Turaga
Friday 31/12/2021
People can still be seen not following COVID-safe protocols in Labasa

People can still be seen not following COVID-safe protocols in Labasa despite an escalation of cases in the community in the Northern Division.

Fijivillage witnessed this when we visited Labasa Town between 2pm to 4pm yesterday.

We saw people standing and sitting close to each other and not socially distanced at the bus stand and inside buses.

Several people standing at the bus stand could be seen without masks.

We also saw groups of boys sitting next to each other at the bus terminals not wearing masks.

Fijivillage also noticed that as soon as some people sat down in the buses, they took off their masks.

COVID-19 cases reported by the Health Ministry in the Northern Division continue to increase with 316 new cases recorded in the past seven days until the 28th of this month.

Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong who has been visiting parts of Vanua Levu even revealed on Wednesday that he went to a screening clinic in Labasa and saw that about 70% of the people screened in that clinic tested positive for COVID-19.



Education Ministry receives 2,741 thermal thermometer guns, buckets and soap from UNICEF

By Naveel Krishant
Friday 31/12/2021
The Education Ministry has today received 2,741 thermal thermometer guns, buckets and soap from UNICEF

The Education Ministry has today received 2,741 thermal thermometer guns, buckets and soap from UNICEF.

While receiving the donation, Education Minister Premila Kumar says the number of thermal guns that they have received today is more than the number of schools.

Kumar further says schools already have enough thermal guns and the donation received today will speed up the process of checking temperature for the students.

The Minister adds over the years UNICEF has been assisting the Ministry in upgrading wash facilities in schools and they also have built wash facilities in schools.

Kumar also says the Heads of Schools have to make sure that their schools are self-sufficient in terms of Personal Protection Equipment.

The UNICEF’s Pacific Deputy Representative, Vathinee Jitjaturunt says they greatly appreciate the collaboration with the Ministry in developing the schools reopening guidelines, outlining safe school protocols and they support the implementation of these guidelines which will ensure the safe reopening of schools.

Jitjaturunt also says everyone has a role to play to ensure the safe reopening of schools.



We will not rush into implementing new measures – Dr. Fong

By Dhanjay Deo, Mohammed Feroz
Friday 31/12/2021
Permanent Secretary for Health Dr. James Fong

The Permanent Secretary for Health, Dr. James Fong says they will not rush into implementing new measures for COVID-19 as it will not serve any new purpose.

Dr. Fong adds he cannot see how he can close all New Year’s parties and gatherings anytime soon.

He stressed this when asked by Legend FM News on the impact these parties and gatherings can have as they can easily be COVID-19 super-spreaders with reports that cases are escalating in all divisions.

A number of New Year's events have been planned in popular nightspots, taverns and bars around the country.

Dr. Fong is currently touring health facilities and communities in the Northern Division.



Police officers to be out in civilian clothing to monitor compliance tonight

Protocols stress that businesses must close operations at least two hours before curfew to allow for necessary movement
By Semi Turaga
Friday 31/12/2021
Photo: Ministry of Commerce

The authorities have increased their presence on the ground with many New Year's events planned for today and throughout the long weekend in popular nightspots, taverns and bars and with concerns that they could be COVID-19 super-spreaders.

Police have confirmed there will be officers in civilian clothing on the ground.

They say these officers in civilian clothing will be moving around in major towns and cities to ensure and monitor compliance.

The Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism says COVID Safe Ambassadors have already been visiting various bars and taverns to re-emphasise the adherence of COVID Safe protocols.

Police say traffic officers will also be conducting bookings for non-compliance.

They are urging people to comply and adhere to the repeated calls by the Ministry of Health to be safe and continue practising COVID-safe measures.

To enter a bar or tavern, you have to be fully vaccinated.

Please ensure you check in with the QR Code for contact tracing purposes.

Most importantly, please have the careFIJI app on at all times.

police-sm

It is being stressed that businesses must close operations at least two hours before curfew to allow for necessary movement.

Businesses can operate at 80% capacity of the venue with strict two metres physical distancing.

All businesses must verify the vaccination status of the eligible employees, customers and clients through the VAX - Check tool.

You should wear your mask inside a bar or tavern and you can only remove masks at the point of consuming your meal or drink.

People are not allowed to share glasses and bilos.

Please also note that the setting or sitting arrangement of the establishment should be as such that there is no space for dancing.

The establishment or the customers are not allowed to move furniture to create space for dancing.

According to the protocols, only 20% of the crowd can stand at any given time.


Sat 01st January


FCCC extends rent freeze on residential and ground rent

By Naveel Krishant
Saturday 01/01/2022
Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission CEO Joel Abraham. [Image: FCCC]

The Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission has extended the rent freeze on residential and ground rent.

FCCC says this extension is based on their assessment of the FCCC (Rent Increase Restriction on Residential and Ground Rent) Order 2020 (Rent Freeze Order), which expired on 31st December 2021.

CEO, Joel Abraham says the extension means that from today, landlords must not charge rent – for letting or continued letting of any premises under residential tenancy, including ground rent – in excess of the rent applicable to the same premises in 2021.

Abraham says traditionally the objective of imposing rent controls was to counter inflation.

He adds however, rent controls in Fiji now serve broader functions, such as consumer protection and ensuring affordability of residential rental properties – especially in times where COVID-19 has impacted the livelihoods of so many.

Abraham further says in reviewing the tenant-landlord relationship, several factors were taken into account, including fragmented laws surrounding landlord and tenant relationships, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and socio-economical issues relating to landlords and tenants.

Abraham also acknowledged President Ratu Wiliame Katonivere’s remarks during his address at the opening of the 2021-2022 session of Parliament, where he mentioned the Landlord and Tenants Bill as being on the legislative agenda for 2022.

He says FCCC will be actively involved in discussions on this, and they will ensure that both landlord and tenants’ rights and responsibilities are given equal consideration.

Abraham adds this will ensure a balanced legislative framework coupled with enforcement that is present to protect both landlords and tenants.


Sun 02nd January


FULL STORY: 805 new COVID-19 cases

2 COVID deaths of fully vaccinated people who had pre-existing medical conditions
By Naveel Krishant
Sunday 02/01/2022
Permanent Secretary for Health Dr James Fong.

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.


We would like to avoid population blanket measures such as lockdowns – Dr Fong

By Shanil Singh
Sunday 02/01/2022
Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong.

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.

FULL STORY HERE



Dr Fong says they support the planned reopening of schools

By Naveel Krishant
Sunday 02/01/2022
[Image: File Photo]

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.

FULL STORY HERE




59 COVID patients admitted in hospital

By Naveel Krishant
Sunday 02/01/2022
Permanent Secretary for Health Dr James Fong.

59 COVID positive people are currently admitted in hospital.

28 are from the Central Division, 6 from the Western Division while 25 are from the Northern Division.

Permanent Secretary for Health Dr James Fong says the ministry has documented a resurgence in COVID-19 cases throughout Fiji while the hospitals are recording a lower than expected number of hospitalizations from the virus.

He says the majority of individuals testing positive in medical facilities had presented for non-COVID medical problems and were found to be positive while undergoing routine screening as all admissions to the hospital are currently tested for COVID-19.

Dr Fong adds it is likely that this is the impact of the vaccination and booster doses in preventing hospitalization, severe illness, and death.

He also says their briefings have also revealed that almost all the cases turning positive have minimal symptoms and remain stable.



92.2% of the adult target population now fully vaccinated

By Shanil Singh
Sunday 02/01/2022
[Image: File Photo]

92.2% of the adult target population in Fiji are now fully vaccinated while 97.8% have received at least the first dose.

This means that 569,791 adults in Fiji are now fully vaccinated.

29,509 children between the ages of 15 to 17 have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine while 36,720 children have received the first dose.

10,657 children between the ages of 12 to 14 have received both doses of the Pfizer vaccine while 21,640 have received the first dose.



Rabuka calls on Government to place priority on people’s lives over economic interests

By Shanil Singh
Sunday 02/01/2022
People’s Alliance Leader Sitiveni Rabuka.

People’s Alliance Leader Sitiveni Rabuka is calling on the Government to place the top priority on the lives of the people and take a risk-based approach that is driven by science and not on self-serving political and economic interests.

Rabuka says he believes that Fiji is now heading towards a third wave which will further worsen once the Omicron variant takes hold on the country.

He says the high transmissibility of Omicron resulted in about 110 countries having the variant within a month since it was first detected on November 24th in South Africa.

Rabuka says scientific data is now revealing that Omicron is more transmissible than the Delta variant and while it may be less severe, its ability to cause severe disease should not be underestimated.

He says given the warning by World Health Organization and Fiji being a vulnerable small island developing state, the highly infectious nature of Omicron carries the real danger of collapsing our already saturated and exhausted health care capacity.

The former Prime Minister is also requesting members of the public to be vigilant, co-operate with the health authorities, follow all COVID protocols, get vaccinated and boosted.


Dr Fong confident their plans to mitigate this 3rd wave and the potential health impact of any severe adverse weather condition is sufficient

By Naveel Krishant
Sunday 02/01/2022
Permanent Secretary for Health Dr James Fong.

Permanent Secretary for Health Dr James Fong says he is confident that their plans to mitigate this 3rd wave and the potential health impact of any severe adverse weather condition is sufficient.

Dr Fong says however, their ability to scale up these plans in a timely manner will be dictated by the impact of these natural events and will remain challenging.

He further says the need for community-wide support in terms of adherence to COVID Safe measures, instituting measures to deal with the risk of flooding and other impacts of adverse weather conditions, and facilitating ongoing vaccination is urgent and essential.

Dr Fong adds we need our people to develop and inculcate safe COVID habits into their daily living to safely navigate the current pandemic without relying on mandates and rules to do so.

He further says enforcing settings-based measures and enforced rules are just one of many ways to promote a message to build better population-wide COVID safe habits adding that these COVID habits will also protect us from many other debilitating and deadly respiratory infections.

Dr Fong says they would like to avoid population blanket measures such as lockdowns as they have also negatively impacted our communities on other fronts.

He 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.




Govt distributes household packs to families in home isolation

By Naveel Krishant
Sunday 02/01/2022
[Image: Fijian Government/Facebook]

The Fijian government has been distributing household packs to families in home isolation.

Some of the places that they have already distributed the household packs to include areas from Suva, Lami, Navua, Nasinu, Nausori, Lautoka, Nadi, Sigatoka, Ba, Ra and Cakaudrove.

To date, government has distributed around 59,841 ration packs.


Mon 03rd January


Re-open schools when physical distancing is no longer necessary – FTU

Ministry yet to reveal how physical distancing will be maintained in classrooms
By Shanil Singh
Monday 03/01/2022
FTU General Secretary Agni Deo Singh

The Fiji Teachers Union is calling on the Ministry of Education to only resume face to face classes when physical distancing is no longer necessary.

FTU General Secretary Agni Deo Singh says they all want children to come back to school as soon as possible however the protocols laid out by the Ministry of Health will not be possible to adhere to, considering the number of classrooms in a school.

Singh says Year 12 and 13 students occupied a few more classrooms when they returned to schools last year to ensure physical distancing was maintained.

He says this will not be possible when all students are back in school as there are no additional classrooms.

Singh adds wearing of masks is not going to be easy in primary schools and teachers will have a big challenge to implement it.

He also says many students will be travelling to schools by buses and they will be exposed to the virus as there is an escalation of COVID-19 cases in the country.

Singh says with children below the age of 12 not vaccinated at all, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education need to weigh their options carefully as they do not want children to contract the virus.

Some parents have also contacted us and asked if their children will be safe in classrooms and whether the schools will maintain the 2 metres distancing.

They have asked how all students will fit in a classroom if they will be made to sit 2 metres away from each other as there may be space issues.

According to the Safe School Re-opening Guideline which was released to all heads of schools in October 2021, all staff and students are to wear masks during school hours and breaks.

It also stated that social distancing has to be maintained in the classrooms especially in the sitting arrangements as much as possible.

We have sent questions to the Minister for Education Premila Kumar and the Permanent Secretary for Education Dr Anjeela Jokhan on these issues. They are yet to respond to our questions.

Year 8 to 13 students will start school tomorrow and Early Childhood Education to Year 7 students will start school next Monday.



We are seeing an increase in cases in the maritime islands - Dr Fong

By Naveel Krishant
Monday 03/01/2022
Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong.

The Permanent Secretary for Health Dr James Fong says they are seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases in the maritime islands and this was expected given the opening of maritime travel and the many social media postings of crowding in maritime vessels and in social gatherings.

Dr Fong says medical teams and supplies are being set up and deployed to communities in maritime islands which are reporting a surge in positive cases.

He further says reports of transmission to medical staff as well as staff in other workplaces are increasing, and as such isolation and quarantine measures will impact workplace outputs.

Dr Fong adds the scientific basis for defining contacts and the conditions of quarantine and isolation has not changed.

He highlighted that they note that some health authorities overseas are reducing the duration of quarantine and isolation periods.

Dr Fong says the rationale and evidence in support of these less stringent conditions are context-specific and as such they are reviewing their protocols which they will be communicating soon.

He says all business and commercial entities need to be aware that the situation is continuously changing.



Govt continues to distribute household packs to families in home isolation

By Dhanjay Deo
Monday 03/01/2022
Food rations were distributed in the Central Division by teams from P Meghji - Fresh Choice yesterday. Photo: Fijian Government

The Government distributed 161 household packs to families in home isolation yesterday.

They have distributed the packs in Navua, Lami, Suva, Nasinu, Nausori, Lautoka, and a number of areas in the Northern Division.

It says ration packs will be distributed in Taveuni today.

To date, the Fijian government has distributed around 60,002 ration packs.



Albert Park drive-through vaccination venue open today

By Dhanjay Deo
Monday 03/01/2022
COVID-19 vaccination venue at Albert Park

The COVID-19 vaccination venue at Albert Park in Suva will be open till 1pm today.

The Ministry of Health will provide booster dose for individuals aged 18 years and above, first and second dose of the vaccine for individuals aged 18 years and above and first and second dose of the vaccine for individuals aged 15-17 years old.

All individuals aged 18 years and above are eligible to receive the COVID-19 booster dose. An individual can receive the COVID-19 booster dose if he/she has received their initial two doses of the COVID-19 vaccines at least 5 months ago.

The Ministry of Health is further encouraging all individuals aged 18 years and above who have underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and kidney disease to get the booster dose.

Individuals who are not able to go to a vaccination site for the booster dose can contact the toll-free line 158 to register for home vaccination.




We are targeting community surveillance in areas that we think have an outbreak – Dr. Fong

By Dhanjay Deo, Mohammed Feroz
Monday 03/01/2022
Permanent Secretary for Health, Dr. James Fong

The Permanent Secretary for Health Dr. James Fong says they are targeting their community surveillance in areas that they think have a COVID-19 outbreak.

He says they are not going everywhere swabbing everyone and are conducting targeted screenings.

Dr. Fong adds this is how things are done when a country has a vaccinated population.

Dr. Fong says previous public health measures that they had implemented were for a period when hardly anyone was vaccinated.

He says with the level of vaccination they have achieved, transmission has already been suppressed to a large extent.

The Permanent Secretary for Health says the best they can do now is to implement a few targeted measures that can suppress transmission in specific high risk places like hospitals and senior citizen homes.



Parents hesitant to send their children to school – Lekutu Advisory Councillor

By Dhanjay Deo
Monday 03/01/2022
Lekutu District in Bua. Inset: Mohammed Farukh - Advisory Councillor

The Advisory Councillor of Lekutu District in Bua, Mohammed Farukh says many parents in his district are worried about their children, especially those in primary schools as COVID-19 cases are increasing in the Bua province.

Farukh says plenty parents have told him that they are hesitant to send their children to school as they will be travelling in vans and buses which puts them at a higher risk of contracting the virus.

He says some students travel 20 kilometres to reach schools and they will come across many people who could be carrying the virus.

Farukh says parents are also questioning who will monitor their children in public transport to ensure they are following COVID-safe protocols.

The Advisory Councillor of Lekutu District also confirms around 10 people are in isolation in their homes in Lekutu as they have tested positive to COVID-19.



Parents who do not want to send their children to school will have to make arrangements or engage in homeschooling

By Shanil Singh, Naveel Krishant
Monday 03/01/2022
Minister for Education Premila Kumar

As students from Years 8 to 13 return to face to face classes from tomorrow, Minister for Education Premila Kumar says parents who are not willing to send their children to school will have to make arrangements with the heads of schools or engage in homeschooling.

She highlighted this when questioned by fijivillage on how the Ministry can work with parents who are still unsure about sending their children to school, especially those children who are below the age of 12 and have not been vaccinated.

We also asked Kumar if the schools will be sending worksheets and other learning materials to these students to ensure their studies are not affected.

Kumar says these parents will have to liaise with schools.

Meanwhile, students from Early Childhood Education to Year 7 will start school next Monday.



Ministry of Education yet to clarify how physical distancing will be maintained in classrooms

By Shanil Singh
Monday 03/01/2022
File Photo

With Years 8 to 13 students returning to school today, the Ministry of Education is yet to clarify how two metres physical distancing will be maintained in classrooms and whether there will be enough space to accommodate everyone since we have 35 to 40 to even 45 students in some classrooms.

According to the Safe School Re-opening Guideline, classrooms should be organised for staggered entry and exit plans, return to classes and break times.

It states that classrooms should be arranged to ensure two metres physical distancing can be observed as much as possible.

The guideline says all staff and students are to wear masks during school hours and breaks.

Students will also be required to maintain the two metres distancing when standing in the queue or when they are being served in a canteen.

It further says heads of schools must ensure that cleaning of classrooms is a routine practice and cleaning supplies can be purchased from the Free Education Grant allocation.

All schools must have basic Personal Protection Equipment especially when dealing with a student who is clearly symptomatic which include gowns, gloves and face shields.

According to the guideline, children with medical conditions are to remain at home if supported with written evidence from a registered medical practitioner.

It says the evidence must include the dates during which a student must remain at home and they will be provided with work to complete at home.

We have sent questions to the Ministry of Education regarding the COVID-safe protocols in schools and how they will be implemented. They are yet to respond.



Teachers will identify and assist students in need in the first week of school

Parents should not send their children to school if they are not feeling well - Kumar
By Dhanjay Deo
Monday 03/01/2022
File Photo

Minister for Education, Premila Kumar says the Ministry will be working closely with various schools to provide necessary psycho-social support to students in the first week of their return to school.

She says teachers will identify and assist students in need.

Kumar says the Ministry is aware of the fact that not all students have had regular and reliable access to online learning tools during the long school closure.

She adds students will now get the opportunity to work closely with their teachers to successfully complete the requirements of the 2021 academic year before progressing to the next level.

The Minister for Education is also calling on parents not to send their children to school if they are not feeling well.

Kumar further says the schools will be finalising provisional enrollments for the 2022 academic year by the end of this month, giving parents and guardians ample time to prepare their children for the new school year.

The last term for 2021 commences tomorrow for Years 8 to 13 and January 10th for Early Childhood Education to Year 7.



Some guests are testing positive for COVID-19 but having 30,000 tourists is an incredible achievement - Hill

By Iva Danford
Monday 03/01/2022
Photo: ajc.com

Tourism Fiji CEO, Brent Hill says it has been difficult for hotels and resorts as there are guests who are testing positive for COVID-19 and have to be isolated, but having around 30,000 guests so far is an incredible achievement.

Hill says it has been positive for tourism as a whole.

He says this is not normal for hotels when compared to at least two years ago where we could not even consider talking about the current situation that we are in.

Hill adds majority of tourists are coming form Australia and America while we also have guests from Europe.

He says on average, a tourist spends around $3,000 during their stay.

Hill says tourists understand the processes they have to go through in Fiji as this is also happening around the world.

He adds tourists have to wait in their rooms for the tests, and if they test positive for COVID-19, they are isolated in the isolation facilities within the hotel.

When questioned on claims made on social media that tourists are locked in their rooms because test results are coming late, Hill says they are not aware of this specific complaint, but are working with the industry to ensure guests remain safe and any issues are dealt with quickly.




Several parents of students who are boarders in QVS, RKS and ACS want govt to delay re-opening of schools - Rabuka

By Dhanjay Deo
Monday 03/01/2022
People’s Alliance Leader Sitiveni Rabuka

People’s Alliance Leader Sitiveni Rabuka says he has been requested by several parents whose children are boarders at Queen Victoria School, Ratu Kadavulevu School and Adi Cakobau School to appeal to the Government to delay the re-opening of schools because of the recent surge in COVID-19 cases.

Rabuka says the parents have told him that they cannot afford to have their children travel and then sent back home as a safety measure.

He says that he deeply appreciates these parents’ concerns for their children and their financial struggles to ensure a good education for them.

Rabuka says he is aware that WHO and UNICEF support the re-opening of schools in Fiji, and have provided advice to the Ministry of Education on safety measures it can implement to ensure students learn in a safe and healthy environment.

He is hoping that these measures are properly adapted to the local realities of the schools, otherwise their effectiveness will be in doubt and may negatively impact on the students and their learning environment.

Rabuka further says if there is an outbreak or surge of the highly transmissible Omicron variant in Fiji, as it is doing elsewhere in the world, then the Ministry of Education may have to conduct targeted school closures to control the spread of the variant and protect the students and teachers.

Meanwhile, Rabuka is calling on the government to be on high alert, and plan ahead, particularly in light of limited health resources to ensure it can respond swiftly, if the Delta surge strengthens and the Omicron variant intensifies the crisis.

The former Prime Minister adds children are our future and most valuable resource and everyone must work together to ensure that they are safe and can access quality education during this pandemic.


Tue 04th January


FULL STORY : Doctor Fong confirms we have the Omicron variant of COVID-19 in the community

People previously infected or are fully vaccinated can get infected with Omicron
By Semi Turaga
Tuesday 04/01/2022
Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong.

Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong says the results of positive samples sent to the Doherty Institute in Melbourne for genomic sequencing have confirmed, as expected, that we have community transmission throughout Fiji of both Omicron and Delta variants of the virus that causes COVID-19.

He stresses that Omicron is vastly more infectious than Delta and as such, in keeping with what we see in other countries, Omicron will become the dominant variant.

Doctor Fong adds as Omicron spreads very fast, you should assume you are infected and self-isolate, if you develop any cold/flu-like symptoms such as runny nose, sneezing, nasal congestion, sore throat, cough, body ache and fever.

He further says if you have any of these symptoms, please stay home to prevent infecting others, especially those who may be more at risk of severe disease.

Doctor Fong stresses that you should get tested if you can, but especially if you are at higher risk of severe disease.

He says you are at higher risk of severe disease if you are over the age of 50 or have any significant chronic disease like heart disease, kidney disease, lung disease, diabetes, hypertension or you are obese or pregnant.

If anyone in your home is at higher risk of developing severe disease, please try to isolate yourself away from them.

Doctor Fong adds Omicron has been shown to escape immunity from infection induced by previous infection or vaccination.

He stresses that this means that people that have been previously infected by other variants or have been fully vaccinated with two doses of the vaccine, can get infected with Omicron.

Doctor Fong adds however, Omicron is more likely to cause milder disease, with data from the UK and South Africa showing that the risk of hospitalization with Omicron compared with Delta is reduced by as much as 80% and once in hospital, the risk of severe diseases with Omicron is reduced by as much as 70%.

He says as with previous variants, unvaccinated people are at higher risk of severe disease. Doctor Fong further adds with more than 92% of adults fully vaccinated, we expect that our high vaccination rates, plus the infection-induced immunity from the large number of people who were infected during the last wave, will help to lower the number of people that develop severe disease.

He adds they continue to see that the majority of individuals testing positive in medical facilities are presenting for non-COVID medical problems and found to be positive while undergoing routine screening as all admissions to the hospital are currently tested for COVID-19.

Doctor Fong adds the vast majority of cases turning positive have minimal symptoms and remain stable.

He says severe outcomes will still be expected in some individuals, including those who have been immunized with two doses of the vaccine, especially people with severe underlying medical conditions or are over the age of 50.


Two elderly unvaccinated men die from COVID-19

By Semi Turaga
Tuesday 04/01/2022
[image: file]

Two elderly unvaccinated men have died from COVID-19.

They are the latest COVID-19 deaths reported by the Health Ministry.

Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong says the first COVID-19 death is a 73-year-old man from Wainibuku who died at home last Friday in respiratory distress.

Doctor Fong says this man had pre-existing medical conditions and was not vaccinated.

He says the second COVID -19 death is an 84-year-old man from Kinoya who died at home on Sunday in respiratory distress.

This man had a significant pre-existing medical condition and was not vaccinated.

There have been a total of 702 deaths due to COVID-19 in Fiji.

FULL STORY HERE



580 new COVID-19 cases since Saturday

By Semi Turaga
Tuesday 04/01/2022
[image: file]

580 new cases of COVID-19 have been recorded in Fiji since Saturday.

405 new cases were recorded on Sunday and 175 new cases in the last 24 hours ending at 8am yesterday.

Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong says of the 580 cases recorded since the last update, 146 cases were recorded in the Northern Division; 111 cases were recorded in the Western Division, 303 cases were recorded in the Central Division and 20 cases in the Eastern Division.

The national 7- day rolling average is 167 daily cases.

FULL STORY HERE



92.2% of the adult target population fully vaccinated

By Rashika Kumar
Tuesday 04/01/2022
[Photo: file]

92.2% of the adult target population in Fiji are fully vaccinated while 97.8% have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

This means 569,791 Fijians have received both doses of a vaccine while 604,488 adults have received at least one jab.

29,509 children between the ages of 15 to 17 are fully vaccinated while 36,720 children have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

10,657 children between the ages of 12-14 have received both the doses of the vaccine while 21,640 have received at least one jab.

FULL STORY HERE



69 people with COVID-19 admitted in the hospital

By Semi Turaga
Tuesday 04/01/2022
Photo by: Luca Bruno/AP

69 people are currently admitted in the hospital with COVID-19.

According to the latest update by the Health Ministry, none of those admitted are in severe or critical condition.

Of those admitted, 35 are in the Central Division, 13 in the Western Division and 21 in the Northern Division.




Health Ministry announces new restrictions and guidelines on sea travel between Viti Levu, Vanua Levu and maritime islands

By Rashika Kumar
Tuesday 04/01/2022
[Image: File Photo]

The Ministry of Health has announced new restrictions and guidelines on sea travel between Viti Levu, Vanua Levu and the maritime islands effective from today due to the COVID-19 outbreak in the Northern division and a number of islands in the Eastern division.

Permanent Secretary for Health, Doctor James Fong says in light of the high prevalence of COVID-19 in Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, travellers on boats between Viti Levu and Vanua Levu will not require pre-departure testing before travelling.

He says however, strict adherence to personal COVID safe measures during the travel should be maintained such as mandatory masking, personal hand gel for hand hygiene and ships to ensure that soap is available throughout the trip, careFIJI app is on and passengers are fully vaccinated with 2 or more doses.

Dr. Fong adds Ministry officials will be closely monitoring the implementation of the new travel protocol.

He further says travellers on boats from Viti Levu to Eastern division maritime islands that are currently experiencing disease outbreaks will be restricted to travellers for essential services only.

These include teachers, nurses, Government staff on official trips, workers and their families who are getting posted or transferred to the islands and permanent island residents who came to Viti Levu for the holidays and are returning to their homes without the need to come back to Viti Levu in the immediate future.

The Permanent Secretary says this measure is to limit unnecessary population movement into the islands as the Ministry is now facing challenges in the medical evacuation of COVID cases to the main hospitals in Viti Levu as the operations of the contracted medevac providers are also affected by the current outbreak.

Travellers on boats from the Eastern division islands to Viti Levu who have been identified as positive cases or close contacts of cases will be required to complete 10 days of isolation in their homes on the islands, be symptoms free and with no pre-departure testing required before they are allowed to board the boat back to Viti Levu.

Dr. Fong says their team on the islands will ensure that these amended protocols are adhered to to protect the travelling population as well as the limited health care capacity on these islands.

He adds medical teams and supplies are being set up and being deployed to maritime islands communities reporting a surge in positive cases.



Good turnout of students in five schools in Suva we visited this morning

By Shanil Singh
Tuesday 04/01/2022
Students arriving at Rishikul Sanatan College

There was a good turnout of students in five schools in Suva this morning as face to face classes for those in Years 8 to 13 resumed today.

Years 12 and 13 students are back from their two weeks break while students from Years 8 to 11 are returning to the classroom for the first time since April 20th last year.

Fijivillage visited Saint Joseph’s Secondary School, Jai Narayan College, John Wesley Primary School, MGM High School and Rishikul Sanatan College where students started arriving from as early as 7am.

A number of children were being dropped off by their parents in private vehicles while others came to school in buses.

All the students we saw were wearing masks however some of them were not maintaining the mandatory two metres distancing on their way inside the school premise.

At one school, students were advised to sit outside the classroom upon their arrival by the teachers and were later told to line up before going inside.

We also saw that schools had a desk at the entry of the school where teachers were checking the temperature of students before allowing them to go inside.

Early Childhood Education to Year 7 students will return to school next Monday.




COVID positive healthcare workers will be required to self-isolate for 7 days & test negative before they return to work

By Semi Turaga
Tuesday 04/01/2022
Photo: Leon Lord/AFP

A healthcare worker of the Ministry of Health and Medical Services who tests positive for COVID-19 will be required to self-isolate at home for seven days.

Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong says before they return to work, the healthcare worker will have to show no symptoms and test negative on the sixth and seventh day.

He says the health care workers will be required to maintain strict masking for the remainder of three days to complete the 10-day isolation requirement before they are fully discharged from isolation.

Doctor Fong adds in the unusual circumstances where the healthcare worker’s absence will severely debilitate the health service, processes will be put in place by the respective health care facility to ensure that a safe corridor of movement and work is created for asymptomatic healthcare workers while maintaining the full isolation requirements.

He further says healthcare workers of the Ministry who work in a low disease prevalence area and become a close contact of a confirmed case will be required to self-quarantine at home for 10 days with daily symptoms checking and strict COVID safe measures before they are allowed to return to work.

They must be tested if they develop symptoms.

Doctor Fong adds, however, if the healthcare worker is working in a high disease prevalence area where essential health services are at risk of being severely debilitated by a high number of healthcare workers having to quarantine or isolate, the healthcare worker will be required to return to duty at their respective health facility with strict adherence to COVID safe measures and infection prevention and control measures, undergo regular symptoms monitoring while at work, and have daily rapid antigen testing before the start of the shift.

They are to immediately stand down from duties and isolate if they develop symptoms or return a positive test.



People need to understand health staff have been working for one whole year without much leave – Dr. Fong

By Mohammed Feroz, Dhanjay Deo
Tuesday 04/01/2022
[Image: File Photo]

The Permanent Secretary for Health Dr James Fong says they can consider having other venues in Suva to provide booster doses for COVID-19 however people should understand that health staff have been working for one whole year without much leave.

Currently, people can only go to the Albert Park drive-through venue to receive their booster doses in Suva.

Some people have raised concerns that while the Ministry of Health is encouraging people to get their booster shots, there is only one venue in Suva and they have to wait in a long queue for hours.

When questioned, Dr. Fong says it is an unsympathetic request to expect health staff to keep working hard without taking any leave and not even celebrate Christmas with their families.



People previously infected or are fully vaccinated can get infected with Omicron

Stay home & do not attend any gatherings if you have any symptoms of COVID-19
By Semi Turaga
Tuesday 04/01/2022
Permanent Secretary for Health Dr James Fong.

With confirmation that Omicron is now spreading in the community in Fiji, Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong is stressing that Omicron spreads very fast so you should assume you are infected and self-isolate, if you develop any cold or flu-like symptoms such as runny nose, sneezing, nasal congestion, sore throat, cough, body ache and fever.

Please stay home and do not attend any gatherings if you have any symptoms of COVID-19.

He says if you have any of these symptoms, please stay home to prevent infecting others, especially those who may be more at risk of severe disease.

Doctor Fong stresses that you should get tested if you can, but especially if you are at higher risk of severe disease.

He says you are at higher risk of severe disease if you are over the age of 50 or have any significant chronic disease like heart disease, kidney disease, lung disease, diabetes, hypertension or you are obese or pregnant.

If anyone in your home is at higher risk of developing severe disease, please try to isolate yourself away from them.

Doctor Fong adds Omicron has been shown to escape immunity from infection induced by previous infection or vaccination.

He stresses that this means that people that have been previously infected by other variants or have been fully vaccinated with two doses of the vaccine, can get infected with Omicron.

Doctor Fong adds however, Omicron is more likely to cause milder disease, with data from the UK and South Africa showing that the risk of hospitalization with Omicron compared with Delta is reduced by as much as 80% and once in hospital, the risk of severe diseases with Omicron is reduced by as much as 70%.

He says as with previous variants, unvaccinated people are at higher risk of severe disease.

Doctor Fong further adds with more than 92% of adults fully vaccinated, we expect that our high vaccination rates, plus the infection-induced immunity from the large number of people who were infected during the last wave, will help to lower the number of people that develop severe disease.

He adds they continue to see that the majority of individuals testing positive in medical facilities are presenting for non-COVID medical problems and found to be positive while undergoing routine screening as all admissions to the hospital are currently tested for COVID-19.

Doctor Fong adds the vast majority of cases turning positive have minimal symptoms and remain stable.

He says severe outcomes will still be expected in some individuals, including those who have been immunized with two doses of the vaccine, especially people with severe underlying medical conditions or are over the age of 50.



69 COVID patients admitted in hospital

Dr Fong says they continue to record lower than expected hospitalization numbers despite the current resurgence in COVID throughout Fiji
By Naveel Krishant
Tuesday 04/01/2022

69 people are currently admitted in the hospital with COVID-19.

According to the Health Ministry, none of those admitted are in severe or critical condition.

Of those admitted, 35 are in the Central Division, 13 in the Western Division and 21 in the Northern Division.

Permanent Secretary for Health Dr James Fong says they continue to record lower than expected hospitalization numbers despite the current resurgence in COVID-19 cases throughout Fiji.

Dr Fong further says they continue to see that the majority of individuals testing positive in medical facilities are presenting for non-COVID medical problems and found to be positive while undergoing routine screening as all admissions to the hospital are currently tested for COVID-19.

He adds also, the vast majority of cases turning positive have minimal symptoms and remain stable.



Many students seen without masks and standing in crowds in Suva

By Dhanjay Deo, Shanil Singh, Marika Rasekaseka
Tuesday 04/01/2022
Students seen in not practicing COVID-safe protocols

The Permanent Secretary for Health, Dr. James Fong says they will be providing guidance to enforcers of COVID-safe protocols after many students were seen not practicing COVID-safe protocols at the Suva Bus Stand yesterday.

Fijivillage saw students from different schools standing close to each other and were not wearing masks.

They were also seen standing in crowds and there was no physical distancing while they were sitting in buses.

This is concerning as while these students may be vaccinated, they can still contract COVID-19 with the Ministry of Health already stating that based on what they are seeing overseas, we should expect a large number of cases and infections could also occur in vaccinated persons and those who have previously been infected with the Delta variant.

The Ministry of Health is urging people to always carry a well-fitted mask when they leave home, avoid crowds and poorly ventilated spaces, maintain at least 2 metres of physical distancing from others when outside their homes and wash their hands frequently with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser.

We have also sent questions to the Ministry of Education and the Fiji Police Force on what they will be doing to ensure students adhere to COVID-safe protocols.

They are yet to respond.


Wed 05th January


Arrive at the vaccination venue by at least 1.30pm as vaccination sites close by 3pm – Health Ministry

More booster doses to arrive this month
By Rashika Kumar
Wednesday 05/01/2022
[Image: File Photo]

It is being stressed by the Health Ministry that if you plan to line-up to get vaccinated after midday, you have to make sure that you are at the vaccination site by 1.30pm so you can be served on that day.

This is because COVID-19 vaccination venues close at 3pm daily.

Some people are concerned that they were turned away from the Albert Part drive-through vaccination site after waiting in the queue for two hours.

They were asked to leave as health officials would only be administering the vaccine to individuals only until a certain point in the queue. The Health Ministry says the COVID-19 booster dose campaign will be conducted until doses are utilized in the existing roll-out phase.

More booster doses are scheduled to arrive in the country by the end of this month.

The COVID-19 vaccination campaign for adults continues today.

Vaccination sites are open from 9am to 3pm.




People still seen not following COVID-safe protocols

Concerns raised about COVID safe measures not followed at the Albert Park vaccination site
By Naveel Krishant, Marika Rasekaseka
Wednesday 05/01/2022
People at the Albert Park vaccination site.

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the country, many people are still seen not adhering to COVID-safe protocols.

Fijivillage visited a few areas in Suva today and noticed there was a blatant disregard of COVID safe protocols.

People were seen not wearing their masks properly and not maintaining physical distancing while waiting in lines.

Similar scenes were noticed at the Suva Bus Stand where many people were not physical distancing while waiting for buses or were not wearing their masks properly.

Concerns have also been raised about COVID-safe protocols not being followed at the Albert Park COVID-19 vaccination site.

People are not physically distancing in the pavilion area and while many are wearing masks, they are not covering their noses properly.

People who were not wearing masks, were also allowed to wait for vaccination.

Some people who contacted us with photos said they are going back home without getting their booster shots as COVID safe measures were clearly not being followed and they did not enter the area as they may get the virus because unmasked people were sitting close to each other.

When asked by Fijivillage, Permanent Secretary for Health Dr James Fong says they will try to sort the masking issue.

He says the good thing is that ventilation is not an issue.



60% students returned to school on the first day

By Semi Turaga
Wednesday 05/01/2022
Students crossing the road on their way to school

The national percentage of students that returned school yesterday was 60%.

This has been confirmed by Minister for Education Premila Kumar who says this has been captured through reports from heads of schools.

In the build up to the reopening of schools, many parents have shared their concerns with Fijivillage about the safety of children especially with the confirmation that Omicron variant is spreading in the community.

Parents are also concerned about the escalation of cases and the vaccination status of other students that their children will mix with in schools.

Years 12 and 13 students are back from their two weeks break while students from Years 8 to 11 have returned to the classroom for the first time since April 20th last year.

Kindergarten students to Year 7 students start school next week.



Tourist claims COVID-safe protocols are not being followed in a Nadi based resort

By Iva Danford, Naveel Krishant
Wednesday 05/01/2022
Sapphire Loebler and her partner. Photo: supplied

The Ministry of Tourism and Tourism Fiji are yet to respond to claims made by an Australian tourist that COVID-safe protocols are not being followed in a Nadi based resort.

Sapphire Loebler of New South Wales says they arrived in Fiji on 27th December last year and are in isolation since 30th December after testing positive for COVID-19.

Loebler claims when she lined up with her partner for Rapid Antigen Test at the resort, they were the only ones wearing masks and attempting to maintain physical distancing.

Loebler further claims they were also allowed to go outside their room to get breakfast although they had not received their Rapid Antigen Test result.

Loebler adds they have to remain in quarantine until the 10th of this month and may not be able to return to Australia until the 14th if they do not receive a negative PCR result.

We have sent questions to the Minister for Tourism Faiyaz Koya, Permanent Secretary for Tourism Shaheen Ali and Tourism Fiji CEO Brent Hill.

We have also sent questions to the hotel operator. They are yet to respond.

We are also trying to get comments from the Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association.



COVID-19 safety messages for schools launched

By Semi Turaga
Wednesday 05/01/2022
UNICEF’s Pacific Deputy Representative Vathinee Jitjaturunt and Education Minister Premila Kumar. Photo: Premila Kumar/Twitter

COVID-19 safety messages in the form of posters, brochures, booklets and videos have been launched by the Education Ministry in partnership with UNICEF.

The posters include checklists for students like COVID-19 symptoms to look out for before they leave for school.

Speaking at the launch today, Education Minister Premila Kumar stressed that the decision to reopen schools took into account numerous factors including potential health risks and the negative impact of long term school closures.

She says she is glad that schools have finally opened because it does more good for the students.



Physical distancing cannot be practiced in schools but our ventilation is better than most schools globally - Kumar

By Shanil Singh, Semi Turaga
Wednesday 05/01/2022
Minister for Education Premila Kumar

Minister for Education Premila Kumar says physical distancing cannot be practiced in schools but to offset that, our ventilation in schools is far better than compared to many other schools in the world.

Some parents had contacted us and asked if their children are safe in classrooms and whether the schools are maintaining the 2 metres physical distancing.

They had also asked how all students will fit in a classroom if they will be made to sit 2 metres away from each other as there may be space issues.

When questioned today, Kumar says COVID-safe measures is not just one measure but is a multilayered approach.

She says the issue of overcrowding is only in urban schools and not in remote areas.


The Minister adds she had said before that they will consider other measures if things go out of hand.

She says this includes splitting the class into two and then allowing one set of students to come on one day and another set on another day however that is not required at the moment.

With 60% attendance recorded in schools throughout Fiji yesterday, Kumar says based on their data there are few isolated classrooms which may be overcrowded for now.

We also asked Kumar on how the ministry is dealing with the overcrowding issue as it is a major concern.

Kumar says if parents do not want to send their children to school then they have other options which has been made clear and that is the best they can do for now.

She had said last week that parents who are not willing to send their children to school will have to make arrangements with the heads of schools or engage in homeschooling.

Meanwhile, Kumar says they are also encouraging heads of schools to take the students to open spaces to teach if classrooms are full however they are monitoring the situation.

The Ministry of Health is urging people to always carry a well-fitted mask when they leave home, avoid crowds and poorly ventilated spaces, maintain at least 2 metres of physical distancing from others when outside their homes and wash their hands frequently with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser.



Heads of schools told to speak to students about following COVID-safe measures outside school premises

We will speak to Police Commissioner for some assistance - Kumar
By Semi Turaga
Wednesday 05/01/2022
Students not following COVID-safe measures outside the school premises

Heads of schools have been told to talk to students about following COVID-safe measures outside the school premises following reports by Fijivillage of the widespread disregard of COVID protocols by students at the Suva Bus Stand yesterday.

Education Minister Premila Kumar says the issue was brought to their attention and they will be talking to the Police Commissioner for some assistance.

Kumar adds they have noticed that Police have been out in Suva and guiding students.

We asked the Minister about exploring the option of having more school buses for students as that would allow them to be monitored by prefects until they get dropped off and it would cut down the number of students crowding up at the bus stand.

In response, Kumar says she totally agrees with this.

She says this has to be a whole of society approach as we can all teach students about COVID-safe measures and also raise awareness.

Many students were seen not practicing COVID-safe protocols at the Suva Bus Stand yesterday.

We saw students from different schools standing close to each other and were not wearing masks.

They were also seen standing in crowds and there was no physical distancing while they were sitting in buses.

This is concerning as while these students may be vaccinated, they can still contract COVID-19 with the Ministry of Health already stating that based on what they are seeing overseas, we should expect a large number of cases and infections could also occur in vaccinated persons and those who have previously been infected with the Delta variant.

The Ministry of Health is urging people to always carry a well-fitted mask when they leave home, avoid crowds and poorly ventilated spaces, maintain at least 2 metres of physical distancing from others when outside their homes and wash their hands frequently with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser.



Uprising Music Festival postponed, new date to be announced soon

By Shanil Singh
Wednesday 05/01/2022
Photo: Uprising Music Festival

Knox Entertainment and the Uprising Beach Resort have announced that the Woodstock Uprising Music Festival has been postponed.

They say it is their responsibility to postpone the festival due to the rising cases of COVID-19 in Fiji and the risks attached to large social gatherings.

The new date for the Music Festival will be announced in the coming days.

People can return their tickets to the venue of the purchase for a refund.

They can also contact Knox Entertainment via the Uprising Music Festival Facebook Page to transfer purchased tickets to the new date.


Thu 06th January


FULL STORY: 7 COVID-19 deaths since confirmation of Fiji's 3rd wave

Two new deaths reported
By Semi Turaga
Thursday 06/01/2022
Permanent Secretary for Health Dr James Fong [Image: File Photo]

Since confirmation of Fiji’s third wave of COVID-19 on the 29th of last month, there have been seven COVID-19 deaths reported by the Ministry of Health and Medical Services.

Two new COVID-19 deaths have been reported in the latest update by Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong yesterday.

The first COVID- 19 death is a 75-year-old man from Suva who died at home on the 31st of last month.

He had significant pre-existing medical conditions that also contributed to his death.

This man was fully vaccinated.

He received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in July and second dose in September.

The second COVID-19 death is a 56-year-old woman from Korovou who died at home last Saturday in respiratory distress.

She had multiple pre-existing medical conditions that also contributed to her death.

This woman had received only one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.


113 COVID-19 patients admitted in the hospital but none in severe or critical condition

By Semi Turaga
Thursday 06/01/2022
CWM Hospital [Image: File Photo]

There are 113 people currently admitted in hospitals around the country with COVID-19.

This has been confirmed in the latest update by Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong.

None of these people admitted in the hospital with COVID-19 are in severe or critical condition.

There 53 COVID-19 patients in the hospital in the Central Division compared to 39 in the Northern Division. The Western Division has 21 patients in the hospital.

Doctor Fong says while most of the more severe public health and social measures are based on changes in hospitalization data, the evidence is clear that we do need to keep up with measures to suppress transmission so that hospitalization numbers remain low.

He says the evidence is that Omicron causes less severe disease than other variants however, it infects a larger number of people in a shorter period of time.

Doctor Fong adds this means even a smaller percentage of people becoming severely ill may still mean a large number requiring hospitalization which will put pressure on the health system.

Click here for full COVID-19 update


Dr Fong confirms he will announce more measures related to masking & social gatherings this week

By Semi Turaga
Thursday 06/01/2022
Permanent Secretary for Health, Doctor James Fong

Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong has confirmed that they will be announcing more stringent measures related to masking and social gatherings later this week.

He says they have always promoted individual COVID safe measures, even during the period of local cases prior to the current outbreak however it is evident that they need to have in place more stringent community-level measures to further enforce the message they are promoting.

Doctor Fong stresses that their testing capability is being tested at present and as such the public is reminded that they will need to prioritize testing for people at higher risk of severe disease to prevent severe outcomes as well as to suppress transmission.

He adds the festive season has brought about the significant movement of people as families reunite to celebrate Christmas and New Year.

Doctor Fong says gatherings have been observed where COVID-safe measures have not been followed or people have attended while having symptoms.

He says you should assume you are infected, and self-isolate, if you develop any cold/flu-like symptoms such as runny nose, sneezing, nasal congestion, sore throat, cough, body ache, fever.

Doctor Fong further adds if you have any of these symptoms, please stay home to prevent infecting others, especially those who may be more at risk of severe disease.

He adds you should get tested if you can, but especially if you are at higher risk of severe disease.

Doctor Fong stresses you are at higher risk of severe disease if you are over the age of 50, or have any significant chronic disease like heart disease, kidney disease, lung disease, diabetes, hypertension or you are obese or pregnant.

He says if anyone in your home is at higher risk of developing severe disease, please try to isolate yourself away from them.

Doctor Fong confirms the isolation period is for 10 days.

He further says you may stop isolating once 10 days have passed since the start of symptoms (with at least 3 consecutive days of no symptoms) or since the positive test (for asymptomatic cases).

Doctor Fong adds the Ministry of Health is using a 7-day isolation period for their staff, requiring a negative rapid antigen test on days 6 and 7 to help maintain essential health services.

He says for the general public, a 10 day quarantine period will apply to all individuals who are close contacts of a case.

The Permanent Secretary says you do not need to be tested if you are a close contact unless you develop symptoms.

Doctor Fong adds a close contact is anyone who lives in the same house as a case, or has been in a confined space for at least 1 hour, or has come within 2 metres, or has had any physical contact, in the 2 days before the case’s symptoms started and up to ten days after.

Click here for full COVID-19 update


596 COVID-19 cases recorded since Tuesday

By Semi Turaga
Thursday 06/01/2022
[Image: File Photo]

596 new cases of COVID-19 have been recorded by the Health Ministry since Tuesday.

Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong says 224 new cases were recorded on Tuesday and 372 new cases were recorded in the last 24 hours ending at 8am yesterday.

He says of the 372 cases recorded in the last 24 hours, 254 cases were recorded in the Central Division; 103 cases were recorded in the Western Division, 6 cases were recorded in the Northern Division and 9 cases were recorded in the Eastern Division.

Doctor Fong confirms the national 7-day average daily test positivity is 34.2%, which is above the WHO recommendation of 5%.

He says the high positivity rate is an indication of wider spread community transmission.

Click here for full COVID-19 update


40,297 children between the ages of 12 to 17 fully vaccinated in Fiji

By Rashika Kumar
Thursday 06/01/2022
[Image: Fijian Govt]

29,640 children between the ages of 15 to 17 are fully vaccinated while 36,814 children have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

10,657 children between the ages of 12 to 14 have received both the doses of the vaccine while 21,640 have received at least one jab.

92.2% of the adult target population in Fiji are fully vaccinated while 97.8% have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

This means 569,791 Fijians have received both doses of a vaccine while 604,488 adults have received at least one jab.

Click here for full COVID-19 update



Dr Fong confirms they have received reports of students and teachers testing positive

We have received reports that students have fallen sick in schools - FTU
By Iva Danford
Thursday 06/01/2022
Permanent Secretary for Health Dr James Fong and General Secretary for the Fiji Teachers Union Agni Deo Singh

The Permanent Secretary for Health Dr James Fong has confirmed that they have received reports of students and teachers testing positive for COVID-19.

Dr Fong says they have sorted contact tracing and facilitated quarantine and isolation needs.

The General Secretary for the Fiji Teachers Union Agni Deo Singh says they are concerned of the risk that it poses to the unvaccinated children at home.

Singh says with children continuing to come to school in this manner, the virus will spread even more as they have received reports of students contracting the virus in school.

He adds teachers have also tested positive and they are worried about spreading the virus to others in their families especially their little children.

Singh says he finds it strange that on one hand, the Permanent Secretary for Health is advising that this variant is easily transmissible, and on the other hand the Minister for Education is advising for students to continue to come to school.

He adds they know that workplaces are encouraging employees to work from home as far as possible or to take turns to come to work to maintain physical distancing.

Singh says they are suggesting that each class be split in two groups.

Singh adds this will allow spacing out of children and keeping them apart and at the same time give them the opportunity to have face to face teaching.

We have also sent follow up questions to Dr James Fong and the Minister for Education Premila Kumar.

They are yet to respond.



Pharmacies run out of Rapid Antigen COVID-19 test kits

By Shanil Singh, Marika Rasekaseka
Thursday 06/01/2022
Rapid Antigen COVID-19 test kits

As cases of COVID-19 continue to increase in the community, several pharmacies in the country have run out of the Rapid Antigen COVID-19 test kits.

Fijivillage has visited a number of pharmacies in Suva who have all confirmed they do not have the test kits available in stock.

Some of these pharmacies have told us new stock will be arriving next week or in two weeks.

A number of people have contacted us and raised concerns about the shortage of the Rapid Antigen COVID-19 test kits as they were checking their status when they had symptoms.

The Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong says our testing capability is being tested at present and they will need to prioritize testing for people at higher risk of severe disease to prevent severe outcomes as well as to suppress transmission.

Dr Fong says if you develop any cold or flu like symptoms such as runny nose, sneezing, nasal congestion, sore throat, cough, body ache and fever then you should assume you are infected and self-isolate.

He says if you have any of these symptoms then you should stay home to prevent infecting others, especially those who may be more at risk of severe disease.

The Ministry of Health is also urging people to always carry a well-fitted mask when they leave home, avoid crowds and poorly ventilated spaces, maintain at least 2 metres of physical distancing from others when outside their homes and wash their hands frequently with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser.


Fri 07th January


Ratu Wiliame encourages people to get their booster shot

By Naveel Krishant
Friday 07/01/2022
President Ratu Wiliame Katonivere getting his booster shot. Photo: Fijian Government

President Ratu Wiliame Katonivere is encouraging people to get their booster shots.

Ratu Wiliame got his booster shot at the State House this morning.

He adds the State House staff also got their booster shots.



Parents have called me expressing their fear of sending their children to school – Prof Prasad

Research is showing that schools are not the super-spreaders of COVID-19 - Kumar
By Iva Danford
Friday 07/01/2022
Leader of National Federation Party Professor Biman Prasad. Photo: NFP

The Leader of National Federation Party, Professor Biman Prasad says parents from throughout the country have called him expressing their fear about sending their children to school when the third wave is raging in the community.

Professor Prasad says the decision by the Government to ignore sound advice and risk unvaccinated students even as young as four to five years old to COVID-19 is sheer negligence.

He adds a month ago, they called on government to reveal its plan of action should a third wave of the pandemic sweep across the nation, but as usual they kept quiet.

Prasad says instead, it intensely and solely focused on tourism and once again is putting all its eggs in one basket.

The NFP Leader also questioned why the Prime Minister and the Attorney General are silent when a crisis is developing right before their eyes and whether they are waiting for the crisis to worsen before they step in and portray themselves as saviours.

Prasad adds no government with compassion and care for the people would put the lives of its citizens at risk, despite knowing fully well that the public health and medical facilities and care is incapable of handling a massive health crisis.

He also says in this case we are talking about children in primary school and in early childhood education centres and surely, the government is not intellectually impaired so as not to see and hear what is going around.

He says the Education Minister, Premila Kumar has embraced a UNESCO report to justify why face-to-face learning does not drive community transmission.

Prasad further says that Kumar is brandishing a WHO report to claim children contracting COVID-19 have milder symptoms.

Prasad says the Permanent Secretary for Education, Dr Anjeela Jokhan had said that schools should install more fans and open doors and windows of classrooms to prevent the spread of COVID-19 if social distancing is not possible.

The NFP leader adds that both deliberately ignore the fact that over 99% of our schools are community run institutions or owned by religious and cultural organisations.

Prasad claims for the last two years, many schools have not received full grants and the ministry is making it difficult for the management to vire funds from one allocation to another.

He also says the Minister and her Permanent Secretary should ask the FijiFirst government to improve hospitals by at least removing grass growing on the walls of CWM Hospital and giving the buildings a fresh coat of paint before barking orders at school managements.

He says whatever happens, this government will bear the wrath of people at the ballot booths in the elections.

Meanwhile, Minister for Education, Premila Kumar had earlier said that research is showing that schools are not the super-spreaders of COVID-19.

She adds physical distancing cannot be practiced in schools but to offset that, our ventilation in schools is far better than compared to many other schools in the world.

Kumar says the decision to open schools or any other decision on schools is made based on scientific data and advice from the Ministry of Health and Medical Services, WHO and UNICEF.

She had also stated that parents who are not willing to send their children to school will have to make arrangements with the heads of schools or engage in homeschooling.

We have sent questions to the Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, Minister for Education Premila Kumar and the Permanent Secretary for Education Dr Anjeela Jokhan.



Parents continue to raise serious concerns regarding the safety of their children in schools

We are having daily meetings and are monitoring the situation - Kumar
By Shanil Singh
Friday 07/01/2022
Minister for Education Premila Kumar

As parents continue to raise concerns regarding the safety of their children in schools, Minister for Education Premila Kumar had said on Tuesday that they are always monitoring the situation.

Kumar says the Education Ministry is not a health expert and they rely on the Ministry of Health, UNICEF, and the World Health Organisation to guide them on safety measures.

She says it is not that the Ministry of Education has made a decision, and knowing very well they are not health experts, they have had a series of meetings on a daily basis to exchange information and to monitor the situation.

A number of parents have contacted us and raised concerns about the safety and security of their children as it has also been confirmed by the Ministry of Health that they have received reports of teachers and students testing positive for COVID-19 in schools.

We have asked the Ministry of Education how many teachers and students have tested positive for COVID-19 so far and how many positive cases and primary contacts have been isolated.

Fijivillage has asked how the Ministry is implementing COVID safe measures when some classrooms in the country have more than 50 students.

We have also asked what actions can the heads of schools take against those students who are not following all the protocols as there have been reports of students not wearing masks despite being told by the teachers.

Meanwhile, Kumar had said on Tuesday that they will consider other measures if things get out of hand.

She says this includes splitting the class into two and then allowing one set of students to come on one day and another set on another day however that is not required at the moment.

The Minister adds this whole week was about raising COVID-19 awareness not only in schools, but to prepare students to be part of the new normal generally.

Concerns are also being raised that children under the age of 12 years will return to school from Monday and none of them have been vaccinated and chances of further transmission is high.

There is also a risk that it will be even harder for teachers to ensure these children follow all the protocols in place.

We have sent further questions to the Ministry of Education to clarify the concerns raised by many parents.

They are yet to respond.



Education Ministry says Shamima Ali’s comments are surprising and incorrect while Ali says they have received a lot of concerns

By Naveel Krishant
Friday 07/01/2022
Fiji Women's Crisis Centre Coordinator Shamima Ali

The Ministry of Education says they are surprised by the comments made by Fiji Women's Crisis Centre Coordinator Shamima Ali in a Fiji Times article titled “Ali queries decision to reopen schools,” which the Ministry says are both factually incorrect and nonsensical while Ali says they have received a lot of concerns.

In a statement on its Facebook page, the Education Ministry says in the article Ali had said why are we only listening to international institutions who are out of touch with our cultural context and social norms — making very critical decisions like the reopening of schools.

The Education Ministry says this is factually incorrect as the international institutions being referred to are the World Health Organisation and UNICEF, and they have served as competent authorities on matters such as the COVID pandemic, health and safety measures and related research and data adding this is just not for Fiji but internationally.

They further say that in fact, Ali does not seem to know how such competent international organisations work in their member countries.

The Ministry adds they do not make decisions for the government but provide advice based on scientific data and facts and these are credible institutions and Fiji has been a valued member of the UN system.

They also say if Ali had paid attention, she would have known that the Ministry has been working with both local and international organisations to assess all relevant factors to develop the strategy for the reopening of schools.

It says the Ministry of Health has been working tirelessly managing this pandemic and also guiding the Ministry of Education, on reopening of school during this pandemic.

The Ministry of Education further says who better to offer advice on such matters than the World Health Organisation, whose primary role is to help direct international health efforts for member nations, and to lead partners in global health responses.

The Ministry highlighted that additionally, UNICEF as the United Nations agency responsible for providing humanitarian and developmental aid to children worldwide, is also eminently equipped to advise on such matters based on data and research collected in many different countries.

They add why did not Ali specify what exactly it was that she meant when she claimed that the Ministry was out of touch.

The Ministry has questioned whether Ali knows that WHO and UNICEF are working within the local context she is referring to.

It also adds that so the question is when Ali says local context, does she mean to succumb to the whims of critics of the government who do not know whether they are coming or going.

Meanwhile, Ali says the response is expected of a government that has lost touch with its people.

Ali says she has not lost touch as people talk to her.

She adds people have called them to seek assurance.

Ali also says there should be more bipartisanship and there should be more listening to civil society organisations and non governmental organisations.



Around 60 children to benefit from the new St John Bosco Angel’s Kindergarten Outdoor Learning Project

By Shanil Singh
Friday 07/01/2022
St John Bosco Angel’s Kindergarten Outdoor Learning Project

Around 60 children will benefit from the new St John Bosco Angel’s Kindergarten Outdoor Learning Project which was handed over to the school by Alumni Leadership Fiji 2015 today.

The project is worth $10,000 which was completed in four weeks.

Project Coordinator Veronica Naiwaqa says they received $5,000 from the Leadership Fiji Foundation while the rest was fundraised and donated by their partners and members.

Naiwaqa says their group is passionate about giving outdoor learning opportunities to kindergarten students which helps in their holistic education.

She says they also received a request from the Head Teacher of the school who had seen their previous projects.

Naiwaqa has thanked the Leadership Fiji Community Fund, the Head Teacher Igenasio Nasila, teachers and parents of the school, school management, Value City and Keleto Loboilagi and his family who helped complete the project.


Sat 08th January


Tourism Fiji and Fiji Airports dismiss claims of tourists stranded at the Nadi International Airport yesterday

By Iva Danford
Saturday 08/01/2022
Tourism Fiji CEO, Brent Hill.

Tourism Fiji and Fiji Airports have dismissed claims that tourists were stranded at the Nadi International Airport yesterday.

The CEO of Tourism Fiji Brent Hill says there was no one stuck and there was a Tourist Response Team available to handle anyone who needed accommodation or who was COVID positive and needed help.

On Twitter, Fiji Airports says tourists were not stranded but there were three flight cancellation yesterday.

They said passengers departed on re-scheduled flights later yesterday afternoon and some later last night.

In an advisory on Twitter, Fiji Airways also stated that they did their best to minimise delays on some affected flights by combining flights and finding alternative flight options.



All COVID-19 vaccination sites closed this weekend & to resume on Monday

Dr. Fong says the Albert Park vaccination team has asked for a break this weekend
By Rashika Kumar
Saturday 08/01/2022
[Image: File]

All COVID-19 vaccination sites will be closed this weekend and will resume services on Monday.

The Ministry of Health says the COVID-19 drive-through vaccination site at Albert Park in Suva and McDonald's in Nadi are also closed today.

Permanent Secretary for Health, Doctor James Fong says they could not organize a vaccination team for Albert Park this weekend as staff were asking to take a break and prepare their families for the adverse weather condition.

He says other vaccination teams are out doing vaccination for specific high-risk persons.



FCCC to continue to carry out COVID-safe inspections despite majority of staff working from home from Monday

By Rashika Kumar
Saturday 08/01/2022
[Image: File]

The Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission says they will continue to carry out COVID-safe inspections and all other enforcement responsibilities despite the fact that majority of their staff will be working from home from Monday.

They say due to the recent resurgence of COVID-19 cases across Fiji, a majority of their staff from their headquarters in Suva and their regional offices in Lautoka and Labasa will begin working from home from Monday until further notice.

FCCC says their operational teams will continue to carry out COVID-safe inspections, monitoring and surveillance of market activities and all other enforcement responsibilities while strictly following COVID-19 safety protocols and public health regulations.

They add access to services at all three locations will be limited to emails, on helpdesk@fccc.gov.fj, via their Facebook Page and online complaints portal through the LiveChat feature on their website.


Sun 09th January


New fines for breach of COVID-safe measures

If you don't wear a mask in a required setting, you will be given a spot fine of $250
By Semi Turaga
Sunday 09/01/2022
[Image: Fiji Police]

New penalties and fines for failing to comply with masking protocols and COVID-safe measures have been announced by the Government.

They all come into effect from tomorrow.

Minister for Commerce Faiyaz Koya has announced that if someone fails to wear a mask or face covering in a required setting, they will be given a spot fine of $250.

He says businesses failing to maintain records or have QR codes available for scanning can be fined up to $1000.

Koya adds the business and official responsible will also get charged.

The Minister further says failure to undertake symptoms and temperature checks will incur a $250 fine for individuals and $1000 for the business.

He adds high-risk businesses failing to verify vaccination status will face a $1000 fine while the official responsible for undertaking that task or in charge of the premises at the time will be fined $250.

Koya adds public service vehicles not complying with the capacity requirements will face more stringent fines.

He says this includes the driver being fined $100, the passenger fined $100 and the permit holder or company fined $1000.

Koya further adds that in addition, the permit holder or company can face a $4,000 fine for not following protocols for Land Transport services.

He stresses that a business that is issued one infringement notice could face double the fine for the second notice together with the closure of the business.


No lockdown, no change to curfew – Koya

By Rashika Kumar
Sunday 09/01/2022
[Image: File]

Minister for Commerce, Faiyaz Koya says they are not locking down any communities, the curfew is not changing, businesses are not being shut, the borders are not closing and schools are not closing either.

He highlighted this while announcing new fines and penalties to ensure strict adherence to COVID-safe measures this afternoon.

Koya says because the Omicron variant does not present the same level of threat to our highly-vaccinated population, the majority of the health measures are not changing.

Koya says all public service vehicles including inter-island vessels must operate at 80% capacity and ensure that all passengers are wearing masks.

He says high-risk businesses must verify vaccination status of the visitor, client or customer using the VAX-Check Tool and adhere to COVID-safe practices.

The Minister has stressed businesses and offices must display a QR code and ensure that staff, visitors and customers scan before entering the premises and a manual register must be maintained for those who do not have a smartphone.

He adds businesses must prominently display at all points of entry a signage on the maximum allowable capacity and ensure that all COVID safe measures are followed and conduct symptom screenings and temperature checks for visitors, clients and customers on the business premises. Koya says they will not hesitate to fine people, revoke permits to operate or shut down businesses, including hotels that blatantly disregard any COVID safe measures.





1,280 new COVID-19 cases recorded by the Health Ministry since Wednesday

612 new cases in the last 24 hours
By Iva Danford
Sunday 09/01/2022
[Photo: file]

There have been 1,280 new COVID-19 cases recorded by the Health Ministry since Wednesday.

The Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong says 348 new cases were recorded on Thursday and 320 new cases on Friday.

Dr Fong says 612 new cases were also recorded in the last 24 hours ending at 8am yesterday.

He says of the new cases recorded, 619 cases were recorded in the Central Division, 535 cases were recorded in the West, 114 in the North and 12 cases in the Eastern Division.

Dr Fong says overall there have been 57,187 cases recorded in Fiji.



Full Story: Five new COVID deaths

12 COVID-19 deaths recorded since confirmation of 3rd wave
By Iva Danford
Sunday 09/01/2022
Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong.

There are five new COVID-19 deaths bringing the total number of COVID-19 deaths recorded since confirmation of the third wave to 12.

Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong says the first COVID-19 death is an 89-year-old woman from Taveuni who died at home on Tuesday.

Dr Fong says she had pre-existing medical conditions and was not vaccinated.

He says the second COVID-19 death is a 55-year-old man from Nausori who also died at home on Tuesday.

Dr Fong adds the man had a pre-existing medical condition, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in mid-July and the second dose in mid-August. He was fully vaccinated.

The third COVID-19 death is a 61-year-old woman from Caubati who died at home on Thursday where she had multiple pre-existing medical conditions that contributed to her death.

Dr Fong says she was not vaccinated.

He says the fourth COVID-19 death is an 83-year-old woman from Suva who died at home on Friday.

Dr Fong adds that she had received her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in mid-June and the second dose in mid-August.

She was fully vaccinated.

He says the fifth COVID-19 death is a 27-year-old man from Nausori who died at home on Friday.

Dr Fong says he had a significant pre-disposing medical condition that was assessed by the attending doctors to have contributed to his death.

The Permanent Secretary says the man received the first dose of his COVID-19 vaccine at the end of July and his second dose, mid-September. He was fully vaccinated.


1,280 new COVID-19 cases recorded by the Health Ministry since Wednesday

612 new cases in the last 24 hours
By Iva Danford
Sunday 09/01/2022
[Photo: file]

There have been 1,280 new COVID-19 cases recorded by the Health Ministry since Wednesday.

The Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong says 348 new cases were recorded on Thursday and 320 new cases on Friday.

Dr Fong says 612 new cases were also recorded in the last 24 hours ending at 8am yesterday.

He says of the new cases recorded, 619 cases were recorded in the Central Division, 535 cases were recorded in the West, 114 in the North and 12 cases in the Eastern Division.

Dr Fong says overall there have been 57,187 cases recorded in Fiji.





From tomorrow informal gatherings in homes and community halls will be limited to 20 people - Koya

By Semi Turaga
Sunday 09/01/2022
Minister for Commerce, Trade, Tourism and Transport Faiyaz Koya

New restrictions for informal social gatherings have been announced this afternoon by the Government.

While making the announcement at Suvavou House, Minister for Commerce, Trade, Tourism and Transport Faiyaz Koya says from tomorrow informal gatherings in homes and community halls will be limited to 20 people.

He says this is because they cannot effectively regulate informal spaces to ensure masking, distancing and other COVID-safe practices.

More to follow.



No lockdown, no change to curfew – Koya

By Rashika Kumar
Sunday 09/01/2022
[Image: File]

Minister for Commerce, Faiyaz Koya says they are not locking down any communities, the curfew is not changing, businesses are not being shut, the borders are not closing and schools are not closing either.

He highlighted this while announcing new fines and penalties to ensure strict adherence to COVID-safe measures this afternoon.

Koya says because the Omicron variant does not present the same level of threat to our highly-vaccinated population, the majority of the health measures are not changing.

Koya says all public service vehicles including inter-island vessels must operate at 80% capacity and ensure that all passengers are wearing masks.

He says high-risk businesses must verify vaccination status of the visitor, client or customer using the VAX-Check Tool and adhere to COVID-safe practices.

The Minister has stressed businesses and offices must display a QR code and ensure that staff, visitors and customers scan before entering the premises and a manual register must be maintained for those who do not have a smartphone.

He adds businesses must prominently display at all points of entry a signage on the maximum allowable capacity and ensure that all COVID safe measures are followed and conduct symptom screenings and temperature checks for visitors, clients and customers on the business premises. Koya says they will not hesitate to fine people, revoke permits to operate or shut down businesses, including hotels that blatantly disregard any COVID safe measures.



If you do test positive or develop COVID-like symptoms, self-isolate at home for seven days – Dr Fong

Dr Fong says although majority of the vaccinated people will have mild symptoms from Omicron, some people are still vulnerable to severe disease even if fully vaccinated
By Iva Danford
Sunday 09/01/2022
Permanent Secretary for Heath Doctor James Fong. Photo: Fijian Government

Permanent Secretary for Heath Doctor James Fong says if you do test positive or develop COVID-like symptoms, their advice is that you self-isolate at home for seven days.

He says positive people should begin their seven day isolation period from the day they tested positive or from the day their symptoms began.

Doctor Fong says contacts of cases do not need to self-isolate, but they should monitor themselves for symptoms and self isolate if symptoms present.

The Permanent Secretary says if you need to leave home for an essential purpose, please wear a mask, complete any essential business you have and go straight back home.

He says they cannot force you to keep yourself at home as much as possible.

Dr Fong says they cannot keep you from meeting friends, cannot count your seven days for you but instead, they are counting on you to be responsible enough to follow the rules and slow the spread of the virus.

He adds that the total number of COVID cases that they are recording is an underestimate of the current problem and this is due to their priority testing regime. Doctor Fong says they are not downplaying the problem but the problem is that they will not be able to test every single body who has a flu like illness as they do not have the test to do it, nor do they have a capability to follow up all those positives.

He says this is not only in Fiji but is present throughout the whole world.

Doctor Fong says although majority of the vaccinated people will have mild symptoms from Omicron, there are people who are still vulnerable to severe disease even if they are fully vaccinated.

He says we need to ensure these vulnerable adults receive their booster doses and until we achieve wider booster coverage, the focus now must be to suppress transmission through basic measures like masking and physical distancing in order to protect these vulnerable Fijians, which include persons over 50 years and those with underlying health conditions, like diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease and asthma, and those who are obese or are pregnant.

He says even without Omicron they were expecting the third wave from the way they saw the behaviour happening in the community.

Dr Fong says this tells us that we need to adapt our approach to confronting this virus. He says this tells us that we cannot apply an old containment response to take on new variants.

Dr Fong says while Omicron may be mild for nearly everyone it infects, it has a faster rate of transmission and this means it may not be mild for the health system because even if the percentage of people who require hospitalization due to COVID-19 may be lower, those who are unvaccinated and those with underlying health conditions who are not boosted may still suffer severe disease and burden our health system.

Dr Fong says while Omicron may be mild for nearly everyone it infects, it has a faster rate of transmission and this means it may not be mild for the health system because even if the percentage of people who require hospitalization due to COVID-19 may be lower, those who are unvaccinated and those with underlying health conditions who are not boosted may still suffer severe disease and burden our health system.



We need to protect the space around education so that it becomes a low risk area – Dr. Fong

By Rashika Kumar, Shanil Singh
Sunday 09/01/2022

Permanent Secretary for Health, Doctor James Fong says education is important and they need to protect that space and make sure that the space around it is protected so that it becomes a low risk space.

While responding to questions by fijivillage on the safety of the large number of unvaccinated children below the age of 12 years who will be returning to school soon, Dr. Fong says these questions should also be answered by the Education Ministry.

However he says they have allowed the re-opening of schools by escalating the authorities’ ability to dish out punitive measures for those that disobey the mandates.

Dr. Fong says they are trying to create a safe zone so that schools remain as least disturbed as possible.

He adds UNICEF and WHO should also be answering questions about sending children below the age of 12 years to school as they have clearly defined that the type of receptors in the noses of children are much less.

He further says at the end of the day, they have to play a nuanced role in doing a risk/benefit analysis and having zero risk is in the hands of each and everyone that includes the parents and everyone around them.

Dr. Fong has also highlighted they have cases of COVID-19 in every sector of employment that includes teachers, doctors, nurses and various ministries so there is nothing special about schools recording positive cases.

He says this is one of the reasons why they advised for its gradual re-opening.

Dr. Fong adds this was for them to start practicing some of the standard operating procedures to be implemented when there is a case in school so that they can do enough to sort out the case, close contacts and protect the school environment.

And as parents continue to raise concerns regarding the safety of their children in schools, Minister for Education Premila Kumar had said on Tuesday that they are always monitoring the situation.

Kumar says the Education Ministry is not a health expert and they rely on the Ministry of Health, UNICEF, and the World Health Organisation to guide them on safety measures.

She says it is not that the Ministry of Education has made a decision, and knowing very well they are not health experts, they have had a series of meetings on a daily basis to exchange information and to monitor the situation.

A number of parents have contacted us and raised concerns about the safety and security of their children as it has also been confirmed by the Ministry of Health that they have received reports of teachers and students testing positive for COVID-19 in schools.

We have been asking the Ministry of Education from earlier this week on how many teachers and students have tested positive for COVID-19 so far and how many positive cases and primary contacts have been isolated.

Fijivillage has asked how the Ministry is implementing COVID safe measures when some classrooms in the country have more than 50 students.

We have also asked what actions can the heads of schools take against those students who are not following all the protocols as there have been reports of students not wearing masks despite being told by the teachers.

Kumar had said on Tuesday that they will consider other measures if things get out of hand.

She says this includes splitting the class into two and then allowing one set of students to come on one day and another set on another day however that is not required at the moment.

The Minister adds this whole week was about raising COVID-19 awareness not only in schools, but to prepare students to be part of the new normal generally.

Concerns are also being raised that children under the age of 12 years will return to school soon but none of them have been vaccinated and the chances of further transmission is high.

There is also a risk that it will be even harder for teachers to ensure these children follow all the protocols in place.

We sent further questions to the Ministry of Education to clarify the concerns raised by many parents.

They are yet to respond.


If you do test positive or develop COVID-like symptoms, self-isolate at home for seven days – Dr Fong

Dr Fong says although majority of the vaccinated people will have mild symptoms from Omicron, some people are still vulnerable to severe disease even if fully vaccinated
By Iva Danford
Sunday 09/01/2022
Permanent Secretary for Heath Doctor James Fong. Photo: Fijian Government

Permanent Secretary for Heath Doctor James Fong says if you do test positive or develop COVID-like symptoms, their advice is that you self-isolate at home for seven days.

He says positive people should begin their seven day isolation period from the day they tested positive or from the day their symptoms began.

Doctor Fong says contacts of cases do not need to self-isolate, but they should monitor themselves for symptoms and self isolate if symptoms present.

The Permanent Secretary says if you need to leave home for an essential purpose, please wear a mask, complete any essential business you have and go straight back home.

He says they cannot force you to keep yourself at home as much as possible.

Dr Fong says they cannot keep you from meeting friends, cannot count your seven days for you but instead, they are counting on you to be responsible enough to follow the rules and slow the spread of the virus.

He adds that the total number of COVID cases that they are recording is an underestimate of the current problem and this is due to their priority testing regime. Doctor Fong says they are not downplaying the problem but the problem is that they will not be able to test every single body who has a flu like illness as they do not have the test to do it, nor do they have a capability to follow up all those positives.

He says this is not only in Fiji but is present throughout the whole world.

Doctor Fong says although majority of the vaccinated people will have mild symptoms from Omicron, there are people who are still vulnerable to severe disease even if they are fully vaccinated.

He says we need to ensure these vulnerable adults receive their booster doses and until we achieve wider booster coverage, the focus now must be to suppress transmission through basic measures like masking and physical distancing in order to protect these vulnerable Fijians, which include persons over 50 years and those with underlying health conditions, like diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease and asthma, and those who are obese or are pregnant.

He says even without Omicron they were expecting the third wave from the way they saw the behaviour happening in the community.

Dr Fong says this tells us that we need to adapt our approach to confronting this virus. He says this tells us that we cannot apply an old containment response to take on new variants.

Dr Fong says while Omicron may be mild for nearly everyone it infects, it has a faster rate of transmission and this means it may not be mild for the health system because even if the percentage of people who require hospitalization due to COVID-19 may be lower, those who are unvaccinated and those with underlying health conditions who are not boosted may still suffer severe disease and burden our health system.

Dr Fong says while Omicron may be mild for nearly everyone it infects, it has a faster rate of transmission and this means it may not be mild for the health system because even if the percentage of people who require hospitalization due to COVID-19 may be lower, those who are unvaccinated and those with underlying health conditions who are not boosted may still suffer severe disease and burden our health system.




Mon 10th January


COVID-19 vaccination programme temporarily suspended due to weather conditions

By Semi Turaga
Monday 10/01/2022

The Health Ministry has confirmed that the COVID-19 vaccination programme is temporarily suspended until further notice due to the current adverse weather conditions.

All vaccination venues including drive through and outsourced sites will not be operational.



FTU claims more than 500 teachers are in isolation

Education Ministry yet to confirm the number of teachers who are in isolation
By Iva Danford
Monday 10/01/2022
Fiji Teachers Union.

The General Secretary of the Fiji Teachers Union Agni Deo Singh claims more than 500 teachers are in isolation as they have either contracted COVID-19 or are primary contacts.

Singh is questioning how the Ministry of Education will manage the situation.

He says based on progress reports that they have received, teacher absenteeism due to illness was 50 percent in some schools last week.

Singh says they are still inundated with calls from all over the country with students and teachers contracting COVID-19 in schools.

He adds the Minister for Education needs to put her ego aside and seriously consider the gravity of the situation on the ground.

The Fijian Teachers Association is also calling on the Ministry to reveal the number of students and teachers that have tested positive for COVID-19 in schools.

General Secretary Paula Manumanunitoga says lives are more important than schools.

Manumanunitoga says they strongly suggested that the opening of schools be postponed as everyone is worried about the increase in the number of cases of COVID-19.

We have sent questions to the Minister for Education Premila Kumar and the Permanent Secretary for Education Dr Anjeela Jokhan.

They are yet to respond.



Police will act decisively if you are irresponsible about following COVID-19 regulations – Qiliho

By Rashika Kumar
Monday 10/01/2022
Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says if you are responsible about following COVID-19 regulations and are doing things right, you do not need to worry about anything but if you are irresponsible then Police will be acting decisively on that.

Qiliho says they have observed things from an enforcement perspective and have decided on actions to take and they will act on it in line with the new fines and penalties announced.

The Police Commissioner further says they are working with other stakeholders such as the Suva City Council and Land Transport Authority and other municipalities.

He adds they will also be sending out community policing units to schools again.

Qiliho stresses that the general attitude of people needs to change.

From today, if someone fails to wear a mask or face covering in a required setting, they will be given a spot fine of $250.

Businesses failing to maintain records or have QR codes available for scanning can be fined up to $1000.

The business and official responsible will also get charged.

Failure to undertake symptoms and temperature checks will incur a $250 fine for individuals and $1000 for the business.

High-risk businesses failing to verify vaccination status will face a $1000 fine while the official responsible for undertaking that task or in charge of the premises at the time will be fined $250.

Public service vehicles not complying with the capacity requirements will face more stringent fines and this includes the driver being fined $100, the passenger fined $100 and the permit holder or company fined $1000.

In addition, the permit holder or company can face a $4,000 fine for not following protocols for Land Transport services.

A business that is issued one infringement notice could face double the fine for the second notice, together with the closure of the business.



Tue 11th January


FULL STORY: 17 COVID-19 deaths during the 3rd wave so far with 5 new deaths confirmed overnight

By Semi Turaga
Tuesday 11/01/2022
Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong.

There are five new COVID-19 deaths bringing the total number of COVID-19 deaths recorded since confirmation of the third wave to seventeen. Three of five new deaths were people that were fully vaccinated.

One man was not vaccinated while another had received only one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong says the first COVID-19 death is a 63-year old woman from Tagitagi, who died on arrival at Tavua Hospital on the 6th of this month.

He adds this woman had significant pre-existing medical conditions which contributed to her death.

Doctor Fong says this woman was fully vaccinated.

He adds the second COVID -19 death is a 75-year-old man from Nausori who died at home on the 6th of this month. He was not vaccinated.

Doctor Fong further says the third COVID-19 death is a 66-year old man from Suva who died at home on the 7th of this month. He received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the end of July. He had only received one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

He says the fourth COVID-19 death is a 52-year-old man from Rewa, who died at home on the 8th of this month. He had a pre-existing medical condition and was fully vaccinated.

The fifth COVID-19 death is a 73-year-old man from Suva who died at home on the 9th of this month. He had multiple pre-existing medical conditions and was fully vaccinated.


461 new COVID-19 cases since Saturday

By Semi Turaga
Tuesday 11/01/2022
Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong.

461 new COVID-19 cases have been recorded by the Health Ministry since Saturday.

368 of these new cases were recorded on Sunday and 93 in the last 24 hours ending at 8am yesterday.

Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong says the drop in positive cases reported in the last 24 hours is likely due to a decrease in people being tested at health facilities due to adverse weather conditions.

The test positivity rate is 39.7%.

FULL STORY HERE



163 people in the hospital with COVID-19

By Semi Turaga
Tuesday 11/01/2022
[image: file]

There are 163 people admitted in the hospital with COVID-19 but none are in severe or critical condition.

The largest number of people admitted is in the Central Division with 106, 21 in the Western Division and 36 in the Northern Division.

FULL STORY HERE




Vaccination drive resumes in Suva today

By Shanil Singh
Tuesday 11/01/2022
[Image: File Photo]

The COVID-19 vaccination drive will resume in Suva from today.

If you want to get vaccinated then you can visit the drive-through vaccination centre at Albert Park and the walk-in vaccination centre at Civic Centre.

Both sites will be open till 3pm.

The Ministry of Health says services will be available for children between the ages of 12 to 17 and for adults.



COVID positive cases seen so far in schools is a reflection of what is happening in the community – Education Ministry

Ministry yet to respond to questions about how many teachers & students have tested positive
By Semi Turaga, Shanil Singh
Tuesday 11/01/2022
[image: file]

The Ministry of Education says positive cases seen so far in schools is a reflection of what is happening in the community and it has been made clear that the decision to send children to school rests with parents.

In a statement on the Fijian Government facebook page, the Education Ministry says there are currently COVID-positive cases in the community which naturally means that a few students and teachers will also have COVID-19.

It says at least in the schools, there is a higher degree of control in terms of following COVID-safety protocols.

The Education Ministry says rather than just focusing on schools, we all need to follow and practice stringent COVID-safety protocols in communities.

They say as communities become safer this will be reflected in schools.

The Ministry further adds that in addition, schools are training the children on COVID-safety protocols, so they can practice this at home.

They have developed communication resources that have been widely circulated on COVID safe measures.

The Education Ministry adds this way they are ensuring students will learn to keep themselves safe, both in and out of schools because COVID is not going away anytime soon and we cannot be folding our arms and waiting for things to settle down to reopen schools.

It says while some parents understandably have concerns, there is obviously a larger number who are sending their children to school - as can be seen in the fact that schools have had over 60% attendance on average in the first week.

The Ministry has also made it clear that parents of children with pre-existing conditions must get advice from their doctors.

It says the attendance in the North is low compared to the other Divisions but this is to be expected.

The Ministry says they fully respect the choice that many parents have made to not send their children to school but they have also asked these parents to remain in touch with the school heads for other options of learning such as collecting learning materials for their children.

A number of parents have contacted us and raised concerns about the safety and security of their children as it has also been confirmed by the Ministry of Health that they have received reports of teachers and students testing positive for COVID-19 in schools.

We have been asking the Ministry of Education from last week about how many teachers and students have tested positive for COVID-19 so far and how many positive cases and primary contacts have been isolated.

Fijivillage has asked how the Ministry is implementing COVID safe measures when some classrooms in the country have more than 50 students.

We have also asked what actions can the heads of schools take against those students who are not following all the protocols as there have been reports of students not wearing masks despite being told by the teachers.

Concerns are also being raised that children under the age of 12 years will return to school soon but none of them have been vaccinated and the chances of further transmission is high.

There is also a risk that it will be even harder for teachers to ensure these children follow all the protocols in place.

We sent further questions to the Ministry of Education to clarify the concerns raised by many parents.

They are yet to respond.



No shortage of booster doses yet – Dr. Fong

By Rashika Kumar
Tuesday 11/01/2022
Permanent Secretary for Health, Doctor James Fong. [image: Fijian Government]

Permanent Secretary for Health, Doctor James Fong has confirmed there is no shortage of booster doses yet.

Some people have told us they were turned away from the vaccination site before 3pm and were told by health care workers they have reached their quota for booster doses for the day.

Dr. Fong says vaccination sites have to close at 3pm so that the staff can make sure all their other administrative work is sorted.

He adds they are also short on staff as some need to be rested and others are in isolation.

The Health Ministry earlier confirmed that more booster doses are scheduled to arrive in the country by the end of this month.

Vaccinations sites are open from 9am to 3pm.



Only the unaffected teachers were asked to report back, just like other unaffected civil servants – Education Ministry

By Rashika Kumar
Tuesday 11/01/2022
[Image: File]

The Ministry of Education is perplexed by comments by the Fiji Teachers Union on why teachers unaffected by flooding were asked to come back to school.

In a statement, the Ministry says the unaffected teachers were asked to report back, just the same as other unaffected civil servants who were also at work.

They say teachers are civil servants and the rules that apply to civil servants applies to them as well.

The Ministry says it was made very clear that those affected can stay and work from home.

FTU General Secretary Agni Deo Singh had also said that the Ministry does not understand that teachers are also affected and should be allowed to stay home until the weather clears.

The Ministry of Education says they had made it clear that if teachers are affected whether they have to travel short or long distances, the decision to stay home was left to them.

The Ministry says it is surprising to know that Singh does not know what the teachers will do at school.

They say they have lost a lot of time due to COVID-19 and teachers need to prepare lesson plans, complete paperwork, prepare worksheets, ensure schools are fully prepared for students and also take extra care towards preparations for Years 12 and 13 examinations.

The Ministry of Education says the issues raised by FTU is just another hollow and baseless attempt to criticise and attack the Government.



Education Ministry says the NFP Leader is clearly in election campaign mode but Prasad says they are raising issues because parents are confused & students are worried

By Semi Turaga
Tuesday 11/01/2022
Permanent Secretary for Education, Dr. Anjeela Jokhan, Education Minister Premila Kumar and NFP Leader Professor Biman Prasad

The Education Ministry says NFP Leader Professor Biman Prasad is clearly in election campaign mode and looking at ways to criticise the Government at every opportunity but Professor Prasad is stressing that they are raising issues about the safe reopening of schools because parents are confused, students are worried and teachers are in isolation.

A statement by the Education Ministry says if they had decided to keep schools closed, Professor Prasad would still criticise the Government on that.

It further says that whatever the Government does, Professor Prasad’s resolve is to go against it without any justification or facts.

The Education Ministry says Professor Prasad is trying to divert the attention of the public by making such statements that are not based on facts and scientific data.

In response, Professor Prasad says the Health Ministry and the Education Ministry need to sort out their communication because the Health Ministry seems to be cautious and diplomatic about the situation.

Prasad says parents, school managements and teachers are calling them with their concerns and now the Fiji Teachers Union is saying 500 teachers are in isolation.

He says they know what the science says but the Education Ministry needs to understand that what UNICEF and WHO are saying is based on certain assumptions.

The Education Ministry stresses that they have always taken advice from local and international experts and organisations, which are based on evidence and science.


COVID positive cases seen so far in schools is a reflection of what is happening in the community – Education Ministry

Ministry yet to respond to questions about how many teachers & students have tested positive
By Semi Turaga, Shanil Singh
Tuesday 11/01/2022
[image: file]

The Ministry of Education says positive cases seen so far in schools is a reflection of what is happening in the community and it has been made clear that the decision to send children to school rests with parents.

In a statement on the Fijian Government facebook page, the Education Ministry says there are currently COVID-positive cases in the community which naturally means that a few students and teachers will also have COVID-19.

It says at least in the schools, there is a higher degree of control in terms of following COVID-safety protocols.

The Education Ministry says rather than just focusing on schools, we all need to follow and practice stringent COVID-safety protocols in communities.

They say as communities become safer this will be reflected in schools.

The Ministry further adds that in addition, schools are training the children on COVID-safety protocols, so they can practice this at home.

They have developed communication resources that have been widely circulated on COVID safe measures.

The Education Ministry adds this way they are ensuring students will learn to keep themselves safe, both in and out of schools because COVID is not going away anytime soon and we cannot be folding our arms and waiting for things to settle down to reopen schools.

It says while some parents understandably have concerns, there is obviously a larger number who are sending their children to school - as can be seen in the fact that schools have had over 60% attendance on average in the first week.

The Ministry has also made it clear that parents of children with pre-existing conditions must get advice from their doctors.

It says the attendance in the North is low compared to the other Divisions but this is to be expected.

The Ministry says they fully respect the choice that many parents have made to not send their children to school but they have also asked these parents to remain in touch with the school heads for other options of learning such as collecting learning materials for their children.

A number of parents have contacted us and raised concerns about the safety and security of their children as it has also been confirmed by the Ministry of Health that they have received reports of teachers and students testing positive for COVID-19 in schools.

We have been asking the Ministry of Education from last week about how many teachers and students have tested positive for COVID-19 so far and how many positive cases and primary contacts have been isolated.

Fijivillage has asked how the Ministry is implementing COVID safe measures when some classrooms in the country have more than 50 students.

We have also asked what actions can the heads of schools take against those students who are not following all the protocols as there have been reports of students not wearing masks despite being told by the teachers.

Concerns are also being raised that children under the age of 12 years will return to school soon but none of them have been vaccinated and the chances of further transmission is high.

There is also a risk that it will be even harder for teachers to ensure these children follow all the protocols in place.

We sent further questions to the Ministry of Education to clarify the concerns raised by many parents.

They are yet to respond.





Fiji National Sports Commission has announced all contact and non-contact sports will be held with no spectators in attendance

By Marika Rasekaseka
Tuesday 11/01/2022
Fiji National Sports Commission Executive Chairman, Peter Mazey

The Fiji National Sports Commission in consultation with the Ministry of Health has announced that effective from today, all contact and non-contact sports can only be held with no spectators in attendance.

They say community sporting events will only be permitted to be held in gated and fenced facilities and not in open parks.

Fiji National Sports Commission Executive Chairman, Peter Mazey says there will be no spectators, no unvaccinated athlete or official, no unvaccinated children and no inter-island travel for tournaments and competitions.

Mazey says there are hefty fines for any spectator who suddenly appear in the embankment or inside the venue during an event.

Fiji National Sports Commission Executive Chairman, Peter Mazey is urging the members of the public to follow the safe COVID-19 protocols.


Wed 12th January


Isolation period for tourists found positive for COVID-19 reduced to 7 days

By Shanil Singh
Wednesday 12/01/2022
[Image: businessinsider.com]

Following adjustments to the isolation procedure for positive COVID-19 cases by the Fijian Government, tourists who are found positive will now be required to be in isolation for 7 days instead of 10 days.

This is under the new guideline developed by Tourism Fiji and Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association for tourists who are found positive for COVID upon their arrival.

Under the guideline tourists will undergo a Rapid Antigen Test on day 2 of their arrival in Fiji and they will be isolated if found positive.

Isolation will end after 7 days if tourists are fever free for 24 hours and other symptoms improve.

People who are in isolation will be required to stay in their room until it is safe for them to be around others.

Negative close contacts can choose to join the positive patient in isolation or stay in their original accommodation however joint isolation in the same room will require mask wearing for negative and positive close contact cases.

If a close contact who isolates with a positive case then tests positive on day 5 then he or she will be required to isolate for 7 more days.

To return to their home country, guests will need to comply with their country’s testing requirements to confirm they are negative or no longer infectious.


Thu 13th January


FULL STORY: 24 COVID-19 deaths during the 3rd wave so far with 7 new deaths confirmed overnight

By Semi Turaga
Thursday 13/01/2022
Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong. [Image: Fijian Government]

There are 7 new COVID-19 deaths bringing the total number of COVID-19 deaths recorded since confirmation of the third wave to 24.

Five of the new deaths reported were fully vaccinated but had pre-existing medical conditions that contributed to their death.

There was one person who was not vaccinated and another person had received only one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong says the first COVID- 19 death is a 53-year old man from the Western Division, who died at home on the 3rd of this month.

Doctor Fong adds this man had significant pre-existing medical conditions which contributed to his death and was not fully vaccinated.

He says the second COVID-19 death is a 57-year-old man from the Central Division who died at the CWM Hospital on the 7th of this month.

Doctor Fong further says this man had presented to the CWM Hospital with shortness of breath and severe cough on the 28th of last month and had been admitted.

He adds this man also had multiple pre-existing medical conditions which had contributed to his death and was fully vaccinated.

The Permanent Secretary for Health says the third COVID-19 death is a 73-year-old man from the Western Division who died at the Sigatoka Hospital Emergency Department on the 7th of this month.

Doctor Fong adds this man had multiple pre-existing medical conditions and was not vaccinated.

He adds the fourth COVID-19 death is of a 66-year-old woman from the Northern Division who died at home on the 8th of this month.

This woman had pre-existing medical conditions and was fully vaccinated.

Doctor Fong also says the fifth COVID-19 death is a 57-year-old woman from the Central Division who died at home on the 9th of this month. She had pre-existing medical conditions and was fully vaccinated.

The Permanent Secretary for Health adds the sixth COVID-19 death is a 53-year-old woman from the Central Division who died at home on the 10th of this month. She was fully vaccinated.

He confirms the seventh COVID-19 death is a 73-year-old woman from the Central Division who died at home on the 11th of this month. She had a significant pre-existing medical condition and was fully vaccinated.


39,179 people have received the booster shot while 142,240 people are still due

More Pfizer vaccines to arrive this month
By Shanil Singh
Thursday 13/01/2022
[Image: Fijian Government]

As at 11th January 2022, 39,179 Fijians over the age of 18 have received the booster dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine while 142,240 people are still due to get their booster shot.

The booster dose program began in November last year with frontline health and essential service workers and was later opened to everyone aged 18 and over.

Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong says they currently have more than 100,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine in stock and are also expecting more doses of the Pfizer vaccine by the middle of this month.

Dr Fong says a booster dose significantly increases protection from symptomatic infection and strengthens protection against severe disease.

The Ministry of Health is encouraging people over the age of 18 to get their booster shot if they are due, especially if you are at higher risk of developing severe disease.

92.4% of the target population are now fully vaccinated while 97.9% have at-least received one dose.

This means that 570,990 adults in the country are now fully vaccinated.

30,029 children between the ages of 15 and 17 have received both doses of the vaccine while 10,657 children between the ages of 12 and 14 have received both doses of the Pfizer vaccine.



417 new COVID-19 cases since Tuesday

By Semi Turaga
Thursday 13/01/2022
[Image: Fijian Government]

417 new COVID-19 cases have been recorded by the Health Ministry since Tuesday.

213 new COVID-19 cases were recorded on Tuesday and 204 new cases were recorded in the last 24 hours ending at 8am yesterday.

Of the 417 cases recorded since the last update, 194 cases were recorded in the Central Division; 182 cases were recorded in the Western Division, 41 cases were recorded in the Northern Division, and nil cases were recorded in the Eastern Division.



205 people with COVID-19 admitted in hospitals around the country

By Semi Turaga
Thursday 13/01/2022
[Image: File Photo]

There are 205 people with COVID-19 currently admitted in hospitals around the country.

None of these people are in severe or critical condition.

114 people are admitted in the Central Division, 50 people in the Western Division and 41 people in the Northern Division.




Save the Children Fiji emphasizes to parents that schools are as safe as they can be

By Rashika Kumar
Thursday 13/01/2022

Save the Children Fiji says parents are concerned because COVID numbers have increased quite significantly in the last couple of weeks but they are emphasizing to parents that schools are as safe as they can be and teachers have been asked to provide awareness and education on COVID safe protocols.

CEO, Shairana Ali says parents are concerned that their children can get sick in schools but they are reiterating to them that they have been working closely with the Ministry of Education and other stakeholders such as UNICEF and the Ministry of Health.

She says they have been providing reassurance to concerned parents that schools are safe and this is based on evidence they have received from other parts of the world.

Ali further says they have distributed stationery to children and majority of the parents are excited to send their children back to school.

She add after consultations with the Ministry of Education, they are distributing school items to students from families impacted by COVID-19 in all divisions.

Schools remain closed for now until they receive clearance from the NDMO and Health Ministry.


Sat 15th January


UNICEF donates over 1,400 COVID-19 test kits to Fiji

By Shanil Singh
Saturday 15/01/2022

1,400 COVID-19 antigen detection rapid diagnostic test kits have been donated by UNICEF to the Ministry of Health to boost our testing capacity.

This will be able to cover 35,000 COVID-19 tests and is part of UNICEF’s ongoing support to the Fijian Government in its efforts to manage the risks associated with the virus.

The Ag-RDT tests are widely used across many countries and provide rapid results within a few minutes and works by detecting SARS-CoV-2 viral proteins using nasal swabs.

Health Minister Doctor Ifereimi Waqainabete says the kits will assist the Ministry in providing timely and effective care to our communities during this wave of COVID-19.

UNICEF Pacific Representative Jonathan Veitch says the kits will enable frontline healthcare workers to test vulnerable people with a simple yet accurate test.

He says as well as good COVID-19 safety measures such as mask wearing, hand washing and physical distancing, these tests will allow early detection and adequate care to be provided to those who need it most.



Only the Suva Civic Centre vaccination site is open from 9am to 1pm today

Other vaccination sites open on Monday
By Semi Turaga
Saturday 15/01/2022
[Image: File Photo]

The Health Ministry confirms the COVID-19 vaccination site at Civic Centre in Suva is open today from 9am to 1pm.

You can get your booster dose at Civic Centre in Suva.

Vaccination for children is also being done today.

All other vaccination sites will be closed and resume services on Monday.


Sun 16th January


Full Story: 33 COVID-19 deaths during the 3rd wave so far with 9 new deaths confirmed

By Dhanjay Deo
Sunday 16/01/2022

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 recorded since 12th January

By Dhanjay Deo
Sunday 16/01/2022

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.



If community transmission is not suppressed, the number of paediatric COVID-19 cases could rise – Dr. Fong

57 COVID positive paediatric admissions so far, however COVID positive test was incidental to the reason for admission
By Dhanjay Deo
Sunday 16/01/2022
Permanent Secretary for Health, Dr. James Fong

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.



Booster dose deployment program has been slowed down however more personnel have been deployed - Dr. Fong

By Dhanjay Deo
Sunday 16/01/2022

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.



We are exploring options of having home-stay for travellers from travel partner countries – Dr. Fong

By Dhanjay Deo
Sunday 16/01/2022
Permanent Secretary for Health, Dr. James Fong

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.





No permit required for outdoor events however indoor events with more than 20 people will require a permit

By Shanil Singh
Sunday 16/01/2022
[Photo Credit: Party and Event]

Acting Prime Minister, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says indoor events with more than 20 people will need a permit while outdoor events do not need a permit however the organizers must enforce COVID safe measures.

He says Fijians who want to host events outside in an open air environment such as a shed or in their compounds must ensure that they are compliant with all COVID safe measures.

He says people will need to ensure that the event is at a 80% capacity of the venue, everyone is wearing masks unless they are eating, physical distancing is maintained, there is no dancing except by the members of a hired dance group or a live band, no sharing of utensils, keep sanitizers or hand washing facility for guests and keep a register for all the guests with their contact details.

The Acting Prime Minister says people must remember that these protocols are there to protect them.

Sayed-Khaiyum also says people who are hosting an indoor event of up to 80% capacity in halls will have to apply for a permit from relevant authorities.

He says while people are required to apply for a permit, other measures such as masking, proper ventilation, two metres physical distancing, and sanitizing remain crucial.

He adds authorities can order the closure of the function if the protocols are breached and they will be randomly checking these events for compliance.



Tue 18th January


FULL STORY: 49 COVID-19 deaths during the 3rd wave so far with 16 confirmed overnight

21 year old fully vaccinated man dies at home and he had no known pre-existing medical conditions – Dr Fong
By Semi Turaga
Tuesday 18/01/2022
Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong.

There are 16 new COVID-19 deaths bringing the total number of deaths recorded since the confirmation of the third wave to 49.

In its latest update, the Health Ministry says the 16 new COVID-19 deaths are from 23rd December 2021 to January 16th 2022.

8 of the newly reported deaths were unvaccinated people, 7 were fully vaccinated but had pre-existing medical conditions while a 21 year old fully vaccinated man with no known pre-exisiting conditions sadly died due to COVID-19.

Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong confirms the first COVID-19 death is a 53-year old man from the Western Division who died at home on 23rd December 2021. He was not vaccinated.

Doctor Fong says the second COVID-19 death is a 92-year-old man from the Western Division who died at home on 8th January 2022. This man was not vaccinated.

The Permanent Secretary for Health adds the third COVID-19 death is a 38-year old woman from the Western Division who presented to the Lautoka Hospital on 8th January 2022. She was admitted but later died on 12th January 2022.

Doctor Fong confirms this woman had pre-existing medical conditions that were assessed to have contributed to her death. She was fully vaccinated.

According to Doctor Fong, the fourth COVID-19 death is a 54-year old woman from the Western Division who presented to the Lautoka Hospital on 11th January 2022. She was admitted and later died on 12th January 2022. This woman had pre-existing medical conditions and was fully vaccinated.

Doctor Fong also confirms that the fifth COVID-19 death is a 68-year old man from the Western Division who died at home on 16th January 2022. He had pre-existing medical conditions and was not vaccinated.

The sixth COVID-19 death is a 65-year old man from the Western division who died at home on 12th January 2022. He had pre-existing medical conditions and was fully vaccinated.

Doctor Fong adds the seventh COVID-19 death is a 69-year old woman from the Western Division who died at home on 14th January 2022. She was not vaccinated.

He adds the eighth COVID-19 death is a 66- year old man from the Western division who died at home on 14th January 2022. He had a significant pre-existing medical condition which was assessed to have contributed to his death. He was fully vaccinated.

Doctor Fong confirms the ninth COVID-19 death is an 81-year old man from the Western Division who died on 11th January 2022. He was not vaccinated.

He says the tenth COVID-19 death is a 71-year old woman from the Central Division who died on 14th January 2022. She had pre-existing medical conditions and was not vaccinated.

The eleventh COVID-19 death is a 47-year old woman from the Central Division who died at home on 15th January 2022. She had multiple pre-existing medical conditions and was not vaccinated.

Doctor Fong also revealed that the twelfth COVID-19 death is a 21-year old man from the Central Division who died at home on 16th January 2022. He had no known pre-existing medical conditions and he was fully vaccinated.

He says in accordance with the protocol for all deaths outside the hospital or on arrival, a sample was collected after the death and tested for COVID-19, with a positive result.

Doctor Fong adds after an investigation, it has been determined that, in the absence of evidence of other illnesses, COVID-19 was the cause of death.

The Permanent Secretary adds the thirteenth COVID-19 death is a 55-year old woman from the Central Division who died at home on 13th January 2022. She had a pre-existing medical condition and was fully vaccinated.

The fourteenth COVID-19 death to report is a 97-year-old man from the Central Division who died at home on 15th January 2022. She was fully vaccinated.

Doctor Fong adds the fifteenth COVID-19 death is a 60-year old woman from the Central Division who died at home on 12th January 2022. She had pre-existing medical conditions and was not vaccinated.

The sixteenth COVID-19 death is a 74-year old man from the Central Division who presented to the CWM Hospital Emergency Department on 15th January 2022. He was admitted and later died on 16th January 2022. He was fully vaccinated.


Death of fully vaccinated 21-year-old man with no pre-existing medical conditions is a sad reminder of the ongoing toll of this virus - Dr Fong

By Semi Turaga
Tuesday 18/01/2022
[Image: File]

Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong says the increasing deaths, including the death of a 21-year-old man announced in the latest COVID-19 update is a sad reminder of the ongoing toll this virus has taken on individuals and our community.

There are 16 new COVID-19 deaths bringing the total number of COVID-19 deaths recorded since confirmation of the third wave to 49.

Doctor Fong says the 21-year old man from the Central Division died at home on 16th January 2022. He had no known pre-existing medical conditions and was fully vaccinated.

He says in accordance with the protocol for all deaths outside the hospital or on arrival, a sample was collected after death and tested for COVID-19, with a positive result.

Doctor Fong adds after an investigation, it has been determined that, in the absence of evidence of other illnesses, COVID-19 was the cause of death.

He says they know that Omicron is less likely to cause severe disease than other variants, meaning that most people who get infected will recover well at home without the need for medical intervention.

Doctor Fong adds the high vaccination rates will also continue to provide protection against severe disease.

He stresses that however, people who are over the age of 50 or have significant chronic illnesses, still have a higher risk of severe disease.

Doctor Fong says sadly, when cases in the community are very high, rare events also occur, such as severe illness and deaths in the young without significant chronic illness.

He says they saw this during the second wave and they are now beginning to see this in the third wave.

Doctor Fong adds they urge everyone to take heed of the advice on how to prevent yourself and others from getting infected and developing severe disease.

He says they ask everyone to be aware of the symptoms of severe COVID-19 disease and to immediately seek medical care if it present.

The symptoms include having trouble breathing (shortness of breath or difficulty breathing), ongoing chest pain, severe headache, confusion, inability to stay awake or wake up, pale, grey or blue-colored skin, lips or fingernails, worsening weakness, coughing blood.

Click here for the full COVID-19 update



329 new COVID-19 cases since Saturday

By Semi Turaga
Tuesday 18/01/2022
[Image: File]

329 new COVID-19 cases have been recorded by the Health Ministry since Saturday.

142 new cases were recorded on Sunday and 187 new cases in the last 24 hours ending at 8am yesterday.

213 cases were recorded in the Central Division; 105 cases were recorded in the Western Division, 11 cases were recorded in the Northern Division, and nil cases in the Eastern Division.

Overall, there have been 59,715 cases recorded with 68% of the cases from the Central Division, 28% of the cases from the Western Division, 1% of the cases from the Eastern Division and 3% from the Northern Division.

The national 7-day average daily test positivity is 41.8%. The high positivity rate is an indication of widespread community transmission.

There are 3, 116 active COVID-19 cases in Fiji based on numbers by the Health Ministry.

Click here for the full COVID-19 update



Over 90% of Fijians above the age of 15 now fully vaccinated

By Shanil Singh
Tuesday 18/01/2022
[Image: File]

More than 90% of Fijians over the age of 15 are now fully vaccinated.

Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong says the immunity that has been built through vaccination, together with the numbers of people who have gained immunity due to prior infection means that the vast majority of people infected by Omicron will have a manageable illness and can recover at home.

Dr Fong says for the current vaccination campaign, 48,946 adults have received their booster dose while 142,240 people are still due.

He says their current stock 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 doses of the Pfizer vaccine this month.

Dr Fong adds the Ministry of Health has almost completed preparations to facilitate the deployment of Pfizer doses to be used as booster doses for adults and for children above 12 years of age.

Meanwhile 92.5% adults in Fiji have received both doses so far while 97.9% have atleast received the first dose.

30,124 children between the ages of 15 and 17 are fully vaccinated while 10,657 children between the ages of 12 and 14 have received both doses.

Click here for the full COVID-19 update



Wed 19th January


Health Ministry confirms 52 deaths related to COVID-19 in the 3rd wave

45 had significant comorbidities
By Semi Turaga
Wednesday 19/01/2022
[Image: File]

The Health Ministry has now confirmed that they have so far reported 52 deaths that they have determined to be related to COVID-19 in this third wave.

A statement by the Health Ministry says 50 people have died either at home, on the way to a health facility or on arrival at the health facility.

The other 2 died within 24 hours of arrival at the health facility.

It has also been confirmed that 45 of the deaths had significant co-morbidities. Of the 7 with no co-morbidity, 6 were 60 to 92 years old and 1 was 21 years old.

The Health Ministry says as experienced in the second wave, adverse health-seeking behaviour and significant co-morbidities remain the main contributing factor.

It says due to the protection afforded by the vaccination program, the reported deaths have been much less compared to the previous wave and the deaths have been mostly in individuals with high medical risk and who have died, either at home, on the way to the hospital or within a few days of admission.

The 21-year-old who died from COVID-19 in this third wave did not have any comorbidities, however, he, unfortunately, died at home.

The Health Ministry says these two factors also make it difficult to narrate more precisely the extent to which COVID-19 contributes to the death of patients.

It stresses that vaccines are 80% protective against severe disease and death not 100% and as such, if community transmission is high enough, rare outcomes will be more visible.

The severe symptoms to look out for are: having trouble breathing (shortness of breath or difficulty breathing), ongoing chest pain, severe headache, confusion, inability to stay awake or wake up, pale, grey or blue coloured skin, lips or fingernails, worsening weakness, coughing blood.


Thu 20th January


FULL STORY : 2 out of 6 new COVID-19 deaths were unvaccinated people

58 deaths from the 3rd wave
By Semi Turaga
Thursday 20/01/2022
The first COVID-19 death is a 64-year old man from the Western Division who died on arrival at the Lautoka Hospital on the 12th January 2022. [image: file]

Six new COVID-19 deaths have been reported by the Health Ministry in its latest update.

Three of the latest COVID-19 deaths were fully vaccinated people while one had only received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Two of the deaths were unvaccinated people.

Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong says the first COVID-19 death is a 64-year old man from the Western Division who died on arrival at the Lautoka Hospital on the 12th January 2022.

He had pre-existing medical conditions and was fully vaccinated.

Doctor Fong adds the second COVID-19 death is an 89-year old man from the Western Division who died on arrival at the Sigatoka Hospital on the 14th of January 2022. This man had a significant pre-existing medical condition and was not vaccinated.

The Permanent Secretary for Health confirms the third COVID-19 death is an 89-year old man from the Western Division who died at home on 15th January 2022 and was not vaccinated.

He says the fourth COVID-19 death is a 74 -year old man from the Central Division who died on arrival at the CWM Hospital on 16th January 2022.

This man had pre-existing medical conditions and was fully vaccinated. According to Dr Fong, the fifth COVID-19 death is a 75-year old man from the Central Division who died on arrival at the CWM Hospital on 17th January 2022 and was fully vaccinated.

He says the sixth COVID-19 death is a 53-year old woman from the Central Division who presented to the CWM Hospital on 16th January 2022 in respiratory distress and was admitted. She had significant pre-existing medical conditions and died on 17th January 2022.

This woman was not fully vaccinated.


659 new COVID-19 cases since Tuesday

By Semi Turaga
Thursday 20/01/2022
[Image: UNICEF]

659 new COVID-19 cases have been recorded by the Health Ministry since Tuesday.

312 new cases were recorded on Tuesday alone and 347 new cases in the last 24 hours ending at 8am yesterday.

According to the Health Ministry, 295 cases were recorded in the Central Division; 325 cases were recorded in the Western Division, 36 cases were recorded in the Northern Division and 3 cases were recorded in the Eastern Division.

In the past 7 days until Tuesday – 18 January 2022, 675 new cases were recorded in the Central division, 689 new cases in the Western division, 1 new case in the Eastern Division, and 142 new cases in the Northern Division.

Click here for the full COVID-19 update




Slight decrease in COVID-19 hospital admissions since Monday

By Semi Turaga
Thursday 20/01/2022
Permanent Secretary for Health Dr James Fong

There has been slight decrease in the number of people currently admitted in hospitals around the country with COVID-19.

In its latest update, the Health Ministry says there are 207 people in the hospital with COVID-19.

This is a decrease of 33 as 240 people were reported to be in hospitals around the country on Monday.

None of these people are in severe or critical condition.

The Health Ministry confirms 99 are admitted in the Central Division, 69 are admitted in the Western Division and 39 in the Northern Division.

Click here for the full COVID-19 update




Sat 22nd January


FULL STORY: 16 COVID deaths reported from the period 28th December 2021 to 20th January 2022 which includes 2 fully vaccinated people who had pre-existing medical conditions

73 deaths from the 3rd wave
By Naveel Krishant
Saturday 22/01/2022
Permanent Secretary for Health Dr James Fong.

16 new COVID-19 deaths have been reported from the period 28th December 2021 to 20th January 2022.

Permanent Secretary for Health Dr James Fong says 12 of the deaths reported were in the Northern Division, with 2 in Central, and 2 in the West.

Dr Fong says all were at higher risk of severe disease due to their ages or underlying medical conditions.

He further says 14 of the people who died were not vaccinated, while 2 were fully vaccinated.

Dr Fong adds the Northern Division deaths from December 2021 to mid-January 2022 were reported yesterday due to a delay in the issuance of Medical Cause of Death Certificates.

The first COVID-19 death to report is of a 63-year-old female from the Northern Division who died at home on 28/12/2022. She had pre-existing medical conditions and was not vaccinated.

The second COVID-19 death to report is of a 52-year-old male from the Northern Division who was admitted at Labasa Hospital on 10/01/22. He had pre-existing medical conditions and died on 11/01/2022 due to COVID-19 complications. He was fully vaccinated.

The third COVID-19 death to report is of a 71-year-old male from the Northern Division who died at home on 12/01/2022. He was not vaccinated.

The fourth COVID-19 death to report is of a 73-year-old male from the Northern Division who died at home on 12/01/2022. He was not vaccinated.

The fifth COVID-19 death to report is of a 71-year-old male from the Northern Division who died at home on 13/01/2022. He was not vaccinated.

The sixth COVID-19 death to report is of an 83-year-old male from the Northern Division who died at home on 13/01/2022. He was not vaccinated.

The seventh COVID-19 death to report is of a 63-year-old female from the Northern Division who died at home on 13/01/2022. She was not vaccinated.

The eighth COVID-19 death to report is of a 73-year-old male from the Northern Division who died on arrival at Labasa Hospital on 14/01/2022. He had multiple pre-existing medical conditions and was not vaccinated.

The ninth COVID-19 death to report is of a 58-year-old male from the Northern Division who died on arrival at Labasa Hospital on 16/01/2022. He was not vaccinated.

The tenth COVID-19 death to report is of a 67-year-old male from the Northern Division who died at home on 17/01/2022. He was not vaccinated.

The eleventh COVID-19 death to report is of an 82-year-old male from the Central Division who died at home on 18/01/2022. He was not vaccinated.

The twelfth COVID-19 death to report is of a 71-year-old male from the Central Division who died at home on 19/01/2022. He was not vaccinated.

The thirteenth COVID-19 death to report is of a 57-year-old male from the Western Division who died on arrival at Lautoka Hospital Emergency on 19/01/2022. He had significant pre-existing medical conditions and was fully vaccinated.

The fourteenth COVID-19 death to report is of a 71-year-old male from the Western Division who died at home on 19/01/2022. He had a significant pre-existing medical condition and was not vaccinated.

The fifteenth COVID-19 death to report is of an 81-year-old male from the Northern Division who died on arrival at Labasa Hospital on 19/01/2022. He had multiple pre-existing medical conditions and was not vaccinated.

The sixteenth COVID-19 death to report is of an 83-year-old male from the Northern Division who died at home on 20/01/2022. He was not vaccinated.


Dr Fong says we should expect that COVID will be endemic, however, we need to appreciate that endemic doesn’t mean harmless

349 new COVID-cases
By Naveel Krishant
Saturday 22/01/2022
Permanent Secretary for Health Dr James Fong.

Fiji has recorded 349 new cases of COVID-19 of which 130 new cases were recorded on Thursday and 219 new cases in the last 24 hours ending at 8 am yesterday.

Permanent Secretary for Health Dr James Fong says as we go through the current wave of COVID-19, Fijians need to adopt practices that build resilience.

Dr Fong says we know that there remains a high risk of resurgence of endemic variants and the arrival of new variants.

He further says our socioeconomic survival depends on our ability to build and sustain individual and community-wide resilience adding that we should expect that COVID-19 will be endemic, however, we need to appreciate that “endemic” doesn’t mean harmless.

Dr Fong highlighted that endemic means that we expect continued circulation of the disease in the community although at this stage it is too early to determine our expected baseline levels.

He also says Leptospirosis, Typhoid, and Dengue are endemic in Fiji and they are associated with serious outcomes, especially when cases increase above expected levels and result in an epidemic (outbreak).

Dr Fong adds building resilience demands that we adopt healthier lifestyles, make COVID safe behavior a habit that we adopt and support others to adopt, mainstream medical and community-wide oversight over vulnerable persons such that we support those at risk to have timely access to health care, build up community surveillance mechanisms that depend on both medical and non-medical data sources to inform us early of impending epidemics or outbreaks.

He further says our objective is to live with the virus and at the same time ensure a high level of transmission suppression and prevention of severe outcomes. Endemic diseases need constant suppression until their consequences are as low as the usual flu viruses.

Click to see FULL STORY




194 COVID patients admitted in hospital

By Naveel Krishant
Saturday 22/01/2022
Permanent Secretary for Health Dr James Fong.

194 COVID patients are currently admitted in hospital.

The Health Ministry says none are in critical or severe condition.

88 are in the Central Division, 70 in the Western and 36 in the Northern Division.

Click here to see FULL STORY




We are advising anyone who is in the high-risk group and develops any COVID symptoms, to please come forward to be tested and reviewed by the medical staff – Dr Fong

By Naveel Krishant
Saturday 22/01/2022
Permanent Secretary of Health Dr James Fong.

The Permanent Secretary of Health Dr James Fong says the 16 deaths reported last night were people who were at high risk of developing severe COVID-19 disease and died at home or on arrival at the hospital.

Dr Fong says these were people who were over the age of 50 or had significant underlying medical conditions (non-communicable disease).

He also says and even more sadly, 14 of the people who died were not vaccinated.

Dr Fong adds as a society, we must do our very best to protect the most vulnerable in our communities, and the best protection against severe disease and death is getting two doses of the vaccine, getting the booster when you are due, and suppressing transmission through COVID-19 safe measures.

He highlighted that the Ministry of Health continues to conduct outreach to remote communities in the Northern Division in the effort to increase vaccination coverage.

Dr Fong says they are asking the communities to also encourage the vulnerable people they know to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

Dr Fong further says they are also strongly advising anyone who is in the high-risk group and develops any COVID-19 symptoms, to please come forward to be tested and reviewed by the medical staff.

Symptoms include cold or flu-like symptoms such as runny nose, sneezing, nasal congestion, sore throat, cough, body ache, fever.

Dr Fong says if you test positive you will be placed on a care pathway that will involve monitoring and escalation of care if required.

He adds they also need everyone to be aware of the symptoms of severe COVID-19 and immediately seek emergency medical care if they are present.

The symptoms are shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, pain or pressure in the chest, confusion, coughing blood, difficulty staying awake, pale, grey or blue coloured skin.


Sun 23rd January


The COVID-19 response should now be a community-wide, whole-of-society program – Dr Fong

By Naveel Krishant
Sunday 23/01/2022
Permanent Secretary for Health Dr James Fong.

Permanent Secretary for Health Dr James Fong says health workers and frontliners have done their best for two years to protect as many of us as possible and we must now do our part to protect them, by getting vaccinated, and by taking precautions to prevent becoming infected, or infecting someone else.

Dr Fong says as we have seen all over the world, even if Omicron is less likely to cause severe disease or deaths compared to previous variants, higher levels of transmission mean more people getting infected in a shorter time period, which may still lead to a high number of hospitalizations and deaths.

He further says and when people are admitted with COVID, rather than for COVID, medical staff are still required to organize themselves to provide care for COVID and non-COVID patients.

Dr Fong adds this means more hospital resources are needed and more staff are required to work, which puts further strain on an already stressed health system.

He also says COVID-19 is also not the only health challenge that health workers face every day adding that taking the pressure off health systems will enable them to deal with the many other health challenges that our people face.

Dr Fong says, therefore, the COVID 19 response should now be a community-wide, whole-of-society program, where everyone plays their role.

He also highlighted that as such while vaccination deployment will continue, their current efforts will be to support other Ministries and business entities to develop COVID safe protocols and to provide the appropriate oversight processes that ensure we all function in a COVID safe manner.


Tue 25th January


FULL STORY: 4-month-old baby & 15-year-old boy die from COVID-19

84 COVID-19 deaths in the 3rd wave so far
By Semi Turaga
Tuesday 25/01/2022
Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong.

There have now been 84 COVID-19 deaths reported during the third wave so far with 11 new COVID-19 deaths reported overnight.

The Health Ministry says 11 new COVID-19 deaths were reported from the 13th to the 23rd of this month.

Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong says 5 deaths were from the Central Division, 3 from the Western Division, 2 from the Eastern Division and one from the Northern Division.

Doctor Fong confirms two of the people who died were below 18 years old and had pre-existing conditions from birth which contributed to the severity of their sickness and deaths.

He adds the remaining individuals were at a higher risk of severe disease due to their ages or underlying medical conditions.

Doctor Fong confirms 5 of the people who died were not vaccinated, one had only received his first dose, 3 were fully vaccinated and 2 were not eligible for vaccination.

He adds the first COVID-19 death is a 4-month old baby from the Western Division who was brought to a remote nursing station on 13th January 2022 in a severely weakened state.

Doctor Fong further says he was medically assessed and stabilized by the attending medical staff and a COVID test was done which was noted to be positive.

He adds sadly this baby passed away before he could be transferred to the Lautoka Hospital despite the resuscitation efforts of the attending medical staff.

Doctor Fong adds records show that the baby had been born with medical complications and was lost to follow-up.

This baby was not eligible for vaccination.

The second COVID-19 death is a 71-year-old-man from the Eastern Division who died at home on 15th January 2022.

She was not vaccinated.

Doctor Fong adds the third COVID-19 death is a 50-year old man from the Eastern Division who died at home on 16th January 2022.

This man had received only the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Permanent Secretary for Health says the fourth COVID-19 death is a 15-year old boy from the Central Division who was admitted to the CWM Hospital on 17th January 2022.

This boy had a significant pre-existing medical condition which contributed to the worsening of his COVID-19 complications.

Doctor Fong adds this boy died on 19th January 2022 and was not vaccinated.

The fifth COVID-19 death is an 83-year old woman from the Central Division who died at home on 20th January 2022.

She was fully vaccinated.

Doctor Fong adds the sixth COVID-19 death to report is a 75-year old woman from the Central Division who died on arrival at Nakasi Health Centre on 20th January 2022.

She had pre-existing medical conditions and was fully vaccinated.

The seventh COVID-19 death is a 67-year old man from the Central Division who died at home on 20th January 2022.

He had pre-existing medical conditions and was not vaccinated.

Doctor Fong confirms the eighth COVID-19 death is a 74-year old woman from the Western Division who died on arrival at Lautoka Hospital on 20th January 2022.

She had pre-existing medical conditions and was fully vaccinated.

The ninth COVID-19 death to report is a 54-year old woman from the Central Division who died at home on 21st January 2022.

She was not vaccinated.

The Permanent Secretary for Health says the tenth COVID-19 death to report is a 64-year old man from the Western Division who died on arrival at Lautoka Hospital on 22nd January 2022.

He had significant pre-existing medical conditions and was not vaccinated

The eleventh COVID-19 death to report is of an 80-year old woman from the Northern Division who died on arrival at Labasa Hospital on 23rd January 2022.

She was not vaccinated.


Severe disease is rare in children but this risk increases should they have significant underlying health conditions – Dr Fong

By Semi Turaga
Tuesday 25/01/2022
[Image: file]

The Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong says the deaths of a 4-month-old baby and a 15-year-boy with underlying health conditions are sad reminders that as cases increase to very high numbers in the community our most vulnerable are at higher risk of being infected and suffering from severe disease.

He says they know that severe disease is rare in children but this risk increases should they have significant underlying health conditions.

Doctor Fong stresses that we must all do our best to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 to protect our vulnerable.

He says this means getting fully vaccinated which includes getting a booster shot when due plus masking, physical distancing, avoiding crowds, hand hygiene, social gathering restrictions, indoor capacity restrictions, ventilation and curfews.

Doctor Fong is strongly advising people over the age of 50, pregnant women and those with non-communicable diseases that develop any COVID-19 symptoms to please come forward to be tested and reviewed by medical teams.

Symptoms include cold or flu-like symptoms such as runny nose, sneezing, nasal congestion, sore throat, cough, body ache and fever.





987 COVID-19 cases since Friday

By Semi Turaga
Tuesday 25/01/2022
859 cases were in the Central Division [image: file]

987 new COVID-19 cases have been recorded by the Health Ministry since last Friday.

There were 656 new cases were recorded Saturday, 81 new cases were recorded on Sunday and 250 new cases in the last 24 hours ending at 8am yesterday.

The Health Ministry says of the 987 cases recorded, 859 cases were in the Central Division; 62 cases in the Western Division, 18 cases in the Northern Division, and nil cases in the Eastern Division.





169 in the hospital with COVID-19

By Semi Turaga
Tuesday 25/01/2022

There are 169 people with COVID-19 currently admitted in hospitals around the country.

None of these people are in severe or critical condition.

There 78 COVID-19 patients admitted in the Central Division, 70 in the Western Division and 21 in the Northern Division.

987 new COVID-19 cases have been recorded by the Health Ministry since last Friday.



There are more than 2,575 active COVID cases as there are many other tested or untested positive cases

Decoupling of the relationship between cases and severe outcome is a result of the protection afforded by the vaccination – Dr Fong
By Vijay Narayan
Tuesday 25/01/2022
Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong

People are advised to continue to follow the COVID safe protocols as there are many COVID-19 cases in the community, and with these increasing numbers in the community, our most vulnerable are at higher risk of being infected and suffering from severe disease.

When asked by Legend FM News on whether the total positive cases released by the Ministry includes those tests conducted at the private labs in the country, Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong says only the PCR test data is collected. He says many people do Rapid Antigen Tests or just work on their symptoms. These test results are not included in the figures released by the Ministry of Health.

Please clear any misconceptions if you or others you know think that there are only 2,575 active COVID cases in the country, as there are many other positive cases around.

A 4-month-old baby and an unvaccinated 15-year-boy with underlying health conditions were the latest deaths of concern announced by the Ministry.

Doctor Fong says they know that severe disease is rare in children but this risk increases should they have significant underlying health conditions.

He also says they continue to record lower than expected hospitalizations due to COVID-19 despite the current resurgence in COVID-19 cases throughout Fiji.

Doctor Fong says this decoupling of the relationship between cases and severe outcome is a result of the protection afforded by the vaccination program.

He says the reported deaths (including the 4 month old and the 15-year-old) have been confined to individuals with high medical risk and who have died, either at home, on the way to the hospital, or within a few days of admission.

The Permanent Secretary says these 2 factors (comorbidity and adverse health-seeking behaviour) also make it difficult to narrate more precisely the extent to which COVID 19 contributes to the death of patients.

Doctor Fong says by vaccinating and maintaining our COVID safe measures we protect the vulnerable among us.

He says the Ministry has mentioned in the past that the vaccines are 80 percent protective against severe disease and death and not 100 percent.

Doctor Fong says as such, if community transmission is high enough, rare outcomes will be more visible.

The Permanent Secretary is strongly advising people over the age of 50, pregnant women and those with non-communicable diseases that develop any COVID-19 symptoms to please come forward to be tested and reviewed by medical teams.

Symptoms include cold or flu-like symptoms such as runny nose, sneezing, nasal congestion, sore throat, cough, body ache and fever.

There have now been 84 COVID-19 deaths reported during the third wave.



48 Public Health Infringement Notices issued to businesses who failed to comply with regulated COVID measures

By Naveel Krishant
Tuesday 25/01/2022

Minister for Commerce and Trade, Faiyaz Koya says as of 8th January 2022, they have issued approximately 48 Public Health Infringement Notices to businesses who failed to comply with regulated COVID measures and they have closed more than 5 businesses for operating without a permit.

Koya also says out of the 48 fixed COVID penalties, 32 are business related.

While speaking during the MSME Policy Dialogue, Koya highlighted that through the COVID Safe Ambassador programme, they have monitored more than 6,000 businesses around Fiji.

He also says 62 percent of high risk businesses inspected do not use the Vax-Check tool to verify customer’s vaccination status before allowing them into their premises, 41 percent of businesses do not practice temperature check at their business entrance, 35 percent of businesses do not sanitise their customers before entering the premises and 43 percent of the businesses do not check their patrons for the careFIJI app.

Koya further says the Government has worked hard to develop protocols and rules, which will enable businesses to continue, but they are not seeing the commitment from the business community.

He adds we all must remember that we cannot operate in the same way we did pre-COVID.

Koya further highlighted that these protocols will remain in place until they are completely sure of COVID-19 and its variants are no longer a threat.


Wed 26th January


Pfizer and BioNTech start trials of new Omicron-specific jab

By Semi Turaga
Wednesday 26/01/2022
[photo: BBC]

Pfizer and BioNTech have started clinical trials of a new Covid vaccine that targets the Omicron variant.

The companies plan to test the protection gained from the new vaccine as a booster jab and as three separate jabs in unvaccinated people.

BBC News reports more than 1,400 adults are expected to be enrolled in the trial, likely to be in the United States.

US company Moderna is planning to begin trials of its own Omicron-specific vaccine soon.

Oxford University and AstraZeneca have also started working on a new version of their vaccine.

[Source: BBC ]



SMEs raise concern about the use of VAX Check tool as they find this process slow and cumbersome

By Naveel Krishant
Wednesday 26/01/2022
[Image: Fijian Government]

A restaurant owner from Suva, Felisha Tuiloma says one of the challenges they face is particularly with the Vax Check Tool and businesses find this process slow and cumbersome.

While speaking during a MSME Policy Dialogue, Tuiloma says customers come in for a lunch or coffee and they go through their process of temperature check, Vax Check Tool and then it takes time for the information to come through and sometimes there is a bit of delay due to slow internet.

While representing the SMEs, Tuiloma also highlighted the cost involved in following the COVID-safe protocols.

She also questioned how are the home-based catering businesses monitored as to how they follow the COVID protocols.

Tuiloma says their proposed solution is if there is a possibility to sight the VAX card instead of going online and going through the waiting process for checks with slow internet.

Permanent Secretary for Commerce and Trade Shaheen Ali told the participants that they will raise their concerns with respective agencies and find solutions collectively.

Ali says COVID-19 has made it especially difficult for them to be operational more so than the larger business.

He adds larger business perhaps are more apt to be able to absorb the added cost of doing businesses associated in compliance with COVID safe measures.


Thu 27th January


FULL STORY: 10-day-old baby girl, 13-yr-old boy & 8-yr-old girl with pre-existing conditions die from COVID-19

12 new COVID-19 deaths
By Semi Turaga
Thursday 27/01/2022
Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong.

A 10-day old baby girl, an 8-year-old girl and a 13-year-old boy who had pre-existing medical conditions and were unvaccinated are 12 of the new COVID-19 deaths reported by the Health Ministry.

96 COVID-19 related deaths have been reported by the Health Ministry so far during the third wave.

Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong says of the new deaths reported – two deaths were from the Central Division, five from the Western Division, one from the Eastern Division and four from the Northern Division.

He says three of the individuals who died were below the age of 18-years-old and were not eligible for vaccination.

Doctor Fong adds two individuals had congenital medical comorbidities from birth which contributed to the severity of their sickness and demise.

He further says that out of the nine individuals who were in the target age group for vaccination, six people were fully vaccinated and three were unvaccinated.

Doctor Fong confirms the deaths of individuals below the age of 18 are now being reported after a thorough investigation done by the Ministry. He says the first COVID-19 death is an 8-year-old girl from the Northern Division.

She died at home on 12th January 2022.

Doctor Fong also confirms this girl had a significant congenital medical condition that likely contributed to her death.

She was not eligible for vaccination.

Doctor Fong adds the second COVID-19 death is a 13-year-old boy from the Northern Division.

This boy presented to Nabouwalu Hospital on 6th January 2022 and was admitted.

Doctor Fong says sadly this boy died on 15th January 2022, nine days after his admission.

He says the boy had a significant congenital medical condition and an assessment made by medical consultants confirmed that his pre-existing conditions contributed to his death.

This boy was not vaccinated.

The third COVID-19 death is a 70-year-old man from the Northern Division who died at home on 14th January 2022.

He was not vaccinated.

Doctor Fong says the fourth COVID-19 death is a 10-day old baby girl from the Northern Division.

He confirms the baby was born to a COVID-positive mother without any complications at birth.

Doctor Fong says the baby girl sadly passed away at home before she could be brought to the hospital.

He adds a post-mortem COVID test was noted to be positive.

She was not eligible for vaccination.

The fifth COVID-19 death is a 98-year-old woman from the Western Division who died on arrival at Lautoka Hospital on 16th January 2022.

She was fully vaccinated.

Doctor Fong adds the sixth COVID-19 death is an 81-year-old woman from the Western Division who died at home on 16th January 2022.

She was fully vaccinated.

The seventh COVID-19 death is a 74-year-old male from the Western Division, who died on arrival at Tavua Hospital on 18th January 2022.

He had pre-existing medical conditions and was not vaccinated.

The eighth COVID-19 death is a 75-year-old woman from the Western Division, who died at home on 20th January 2022.

She was fully vaccinated.

The ninth COVID-19 death is a 72-year-old woman from the Central Division, who died at home on 21st January 2022.

She had pre-existing medical conditions and was fully vaccinated.

The tenth COVID-19 death is a 46-year-old woman from the Western Division, who died at home.

She was not vaccinated.

The eleventh COVID-19 death is a 78-year-old man from the Eastern Division, who died at home on 21st January 2022.

He was fully vaccinated.

The twelfth COVID-19 death is a 79-year-old man from the Central Division, who died on arrival at CWM Hospital on 22nd January 2022. He was fully vaccinated.

Doctor Fong says the deaths of the three children from COVID-19 announced today is a sad reminder of the legacy of COVID 19.

He stresses that as cases increase to very high numbers in the community, our most vulnerable are at increased risk of being infected and suffering from severe disease.

Doctor Fong says severe disease is rare in children but this risk increases should they have significant underlying health conditions.

He stresses that by vaccinating and maintaining our COVID safe measures, we protect the vulnerable among us.

Doctor Fong adds if community transmission is high enough, rare outcomes will become more frequent.

He stresses that looking after the vulnerable needs to be a community-wide effort.

Doctor Fong further says the public needs to be aware of the symptoms of severe COVID-19 disease and early presentation to a health facility when severe symptoms are present are critical protection measures that we should know and act upon.

The severe symptoms to look out for are: having trouble breathing (shortness of breath or difficulty breathing), ongoing chest pain, severe headache, confusion, inability to stay awake or wake up, pale, grey or blue-coloured skin, lips or fingernails, worsening weakness and coughing blood.


223 COVID-19 cases since Monday

By Semi Turaga
Thursday 27/01/2022
[Image: file]

223 COVID-19 cases have been recorded by the Health Ministry since Monday.

This does not include the Rapid Antigen Tests done by people at home or those that self-isolate and take necessary action based entirely on their symptoms.

The Health Ministry says 13 new cases were recorded on Tuesday and 110 new cases in the last 24 hours ending at 8am yesterday.

Of the 223 cases recorded, 116 cases were recorded in the Central Division; 92 cases were recorded in the Western Division, 11 cases were recorded in the Northern Division and 4 cases were recorded in the Eastern Division.

There are 1,980 active cases.

The national 7-day average daily test positivity is 45.8%.

The high positivity rate is an indication of widespread community transmission.

Click here for full COVID-19 update



68,099 people have received booster doses so far

Health Ministry expects to receive more Pfizer vaccines soon
By Rashika Kumar
Thursday 27/01/2022
[Image: file]

As of 24th January, 68,099 individuals have received booster doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine so far from the 142,240 persons considered eligible.

Permanent Secretary of Heath Doctor James Fong says this represents a 48% coverage rate for booster-eligible persons.

He says they are also expecting to receive more Pfizer vaccines soon which will be used for booster doses and as a vaccine for children.

Dr. Fong stresses the booster vaccine and vaccination for children are not considered mandatory, however, they are encouraging all eligible individuals to be vaccinated or get a booster dose and help navigate Fiji into a safer COVID zone that supports the socio-economic revival and safer reopening of schools.

He adds vaccination of children under 12 years remains part of ongoing discussions as sourcing them remains difficult.

92.6% of the adult target population is fully vaccinated while 98% have received at least one dose.

This means 605,842 adults have received at least one dose of a vaccine while 527,722 people have received both doses.

30,431 children between the ages of 15 to 17 are fully vaccinated and 37,319 children have received at least one dose.

10,657 children between the ages of 12 to 14 have also received both the doses of the COVID-19 vaccine while 21,640 children have received at least one dose.

Click here for full COVID-19 update




155 people admitted in the hospital with COVID-19

By Semi Turaga
Thursday 27/01/2022

155 people are currently admitted in hospitals around the country with COVID-19 but none of them are in severe or critical condition.

This is a decrease compared to the 169 people that were admitted in the hospital on Monday.

The Health Ministry says 70 people are admitted in the Central Division, 59 in the Western Division and 26 in the Northern Division.

Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong says they continue to record lower than expected hospitalizations due to COVID-19 despite the current resurgence in COVID-19 cases throughout Fiji.

He says this is a result of the protection afforded by the vaccination program.



Sat 29th January


FULL STORY: 7 new COVID-19 deaths bringing total deaths in the 3rd wave so far to 103

By Semi Turaga
Saturday 29/01/2022
[Image: file]

7 new COVID-19 deaths have been reported from 22nd January 2022 to 26th January 2022 bringing the total COVID-19 deaths in the third wave to 103 so far.

Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong says one death was from the Central Division, two from the Western Division and four from the Northern Division.

He says two were fully vaccinated and the remaining five were unvaccinated.

Doctor Fong says medical records reflected that, out of the seven, one individual had a significant congenital medical condition while six had significant pre-existing comorbidities which contributed to the severity of their illness and demise.

He adds the first COVID -19 death is a 64-year-old man from the Northern Division who died on arrival at Labasa Hospital on 22 January 2022.

He had pre-existing medical conditions and was not vaccinated.

Doctor Fong further says the second COVID-19 death is a 71-year-old man from the Western Division who died at home on 24th January 2022. He had pre-existing medical conditions and was fully vaccinated.

The Permanent Secretary for Health confirms the third COVID-19 death is an 86-year-old woman from the Northern Division, who was admitted at Labasa Hospital on 23rd January 2022 and died 2 days later in hospital on 25th January 2022.

She was not vaccinated.

Doctor Fong further adds that the fourth COVID-19 death is an 83-year-old woman from the Western Division who died at home on 25th January 2022. She was not vaccinated.

He says the fifth COVID-19 death is a 31-year-old man from the Northern Division who died at home on 26th January 2022. Doctor Fong adds this man had a significant congenital medical condition that likely contributed to his death.

He was fully vaccinated.

The Permanent Secretary further adds the sixth COVID-19 death is a 75-year-old man from the Central Division who died at home. He was not vaccinated.

The seventh COVID-19 death is of an 83-year-old woman of the Northern Division, who was admitted at Labasa Hospital on 23rd January 2022.

She had pre-existing medical conditions which contributed to the severity of her illness.

This woman died 2 days later in hospital on 25th January 2022. She was not vaccinated.


National 7-day average COVID-19 daily test positivity is 44.6%

By Semi Turaga
Saturday 29/01/2022
[Image: file]

The national 7-day average COVID-19 daily test positivity is 44.6%.

This means 44.6% of the COVID-19 tests conducted by the Health Ministry return a positive result.

The Health Ministry says the high positivity rate is an indication of widespread community transmission.

There are 1,851 active COVID-19 cases based on the latest update by the Health Ministry but please not that this does not include the Rapid Antigen Tests done by people at home or those that self-isolate and take necessary action based entirely on their symptoms.

146 new cases COVID-19 have been recorded by the Health Ministry since Wednesday.

102 of these new cases were recorded on Thursday and 44 new cases in the last 24 hours ending at 8am yesterday.

Of the 146 cases recorded, 86 cases were in the Central Division; 54 cases in the Western Division, 6 cases in the Northern Division, and nil cases in the Eastern Division.




Sourcing vaccines for children under 12 years old remains difficult – Dr Fong

By Shanil Singh
Saturday 29/01/2022
[Image: file]

The Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong says vaccination of children under the age of 12 remains part of ongoing discussions as sourcing them remains difficult.

He has also revealed that as of 26th January, 72,399 people have so far received the booster dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine from the 142,240 persons considered eligible.

This represents a 51% coverage rate for booster-eligible persons.

Dr Fong says the booster vaccine and vaccination for children are not considered mandatory however they encourage all eligible individuals to be vaccinated or get a booster dose and help navigate Fiji into a safer COVID zone that supports the socio-economic revival and safer reopening of schools.

Dr Fong says they are also expecting to receive more Pfizer vaccines soon which will be used for booster doses and as a vaccine for children.

Meanwhile 92.7% of the adult population are now fully vaccinated while 98% have received the first dose.

30,559 children between the ages of 15 and 17 are now fully vaccinated while 10,657 children between the ages of 12 to 14 have received both doses.




129 people admitted in the hospital with COVID-19

By Semi Turaga
Saturday 29/01/2022
[Image: file]

129 people are admitted in hospitals around the country with COVID-19. 70 people are admitted in the Central Division, 59 in the Western Division and 26 in the Northern Division.

The Health Ministry confirms that none of these people are in severe or critical condition.

These latest numbers show a further decrease in the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations.

On Wednesday, 155 were admitted in hospitals around the country with COVID-19. Semi





I will review the situation for curfew – Dr Fong

PS Health says there are proportionally fewer symptomatic infections and cases with severe outcomes from COVID in children compared with older age groups
By Naveel Krishant
Saturday 29/01/2022
[Image: file]

Permanent Secretary for Health Dr James Fong says he will review the situation for curfew.

He made this comment to fijivillage after we highlighted to him that Ellana Kalounisiga of Knox Entertainment said that one of the biggest challenges for the performing arts sector across Fiji is the curfew.

While speaking during the MSME Policy Dialogue, Kalounisiga asked for an update on what is happening to the curfew, what is the reason we still have a curfew and when will it be lifted.

She further raised the question on the logic behind group gatherings allowed for 20 people at an inside event while as parents, they have to allow kids to go back to school and we all know that a lot of our local schools have classroom sizes that are 40 plus.

Dr Fong says for children, the Ministry reiterates the WHO endorsed position that children under 18 years should not be restricted from social interactions on the basis of vaccination status.

He further says overall, there are proportionally fewer symptomatic infections, and cases with severe outcomes from COVID-19 in children and adolescents, compared with older age groups, and therefore such restrictions are not justified from a public health perspective.

Dr Fong adds this is especially so that with the added requirement to adhere to COVID safe measures, the inherent lower risk in children and adolescents is further reduced.

He also says that while the Ministry is encouraging the vaccination of our children less than 18 years, it is still not compulsory and children are safe to interact in our communities while employing COVID safe measures at all times outside their households.

Five people below the age of 19 years have died from COVID-19 during the third wave in Fiji.

An analysis of the first 94 deaths in the third wave by the Health Ministry says the five deaths in the under 19 group were for children with significant underlying medical conditions present since birth.

A 10-day old baby girl, an 8-year-old girl and a 13-year-old boy who had pre-existing medical conditions and were unvaccinated were confirmed to have died from COVID-19 on Wednesday.

On Monday, the Health Ministry also confirmed the deaths of a 4-month-old baby and an unvaccinated 15-year-boy with underlying health conditions.


Sun 30th January


Dr Fong says we have means to protect ourselves and children have a lower risk of getting the disease

By Vijay Narayan, Iva Danford
Sunday 30/01/2022
Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong.

We have the means to protect ourselves and children have a lower risk of getting COVID-19, lower risk of suffering symptomatic disease and lower risk of getting severe outcomes.

Those are the comments of Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong when asked if he feels that it is safer for unvaccinated children from 5 to 12 years to wait until they are given time to get vaccinated and then return to school.

Dr Fong says if we have that inherent decrease in the risk, we just need to pile it up with a few risk measures and make sure that those around them are protected and they do not pass the disease to the children.

He says by doing this we are setting up a space to allow children to go back to school.

Year 12 and 13 students returned to school after time was given for parents to get their children vaccinated. The same was done for children aged 12 to 15 years.

While the urgency to ensure the students return to school has been constantly highlighted as many school hours have been lost, some parents of children aged 5 to 12 years have said that they would feel safer if more protection is provided to their children and a decision is made on whether they can get vaccinated like what countries like the US and Australia are doing.

They are also concerned about the 5 deaths of the unvaccinated with underlying medical conditions during the third wave who were under 19 years old.

The World Health Organisation had said at the end of last year that countries should consider the individual and population benefits of immunising children and adolescents in their specific epidemiological and social context when developing their COVID-19 immunisation policies and programs.

It had said as children and adolescents tend to have milder disease compared to adults, unless they are in a group at higher risk of severe COVID-19, it is less urgent to vaccinate them than older people, those with chronic health conditions and health workers.

The WHO said there are benefits of vaccinating children and adolescents that go beyond the direct health benefits.

It said vaccination that decreases COVID transmission in this age group may reduce transmission from children and adolescents to older adults, and may help reduce the need for mitigation measures in schools.

The WHO said minimizing disruptions to education for children and maintenance of their overall well-being, health and safety are important considerations.

It further says that countries’ strategies related to COVID-19 control should facilitate children’s participation in education and other aspects of social life, and minimize school closures, even without vaccinating children and adolescents.

It says UNICEF and WHO have developed guidance on how to minimize transmission in schools and keep schools open, regardless of vaccination of school-aged children.

The WHO says before considering implementing primary vaccination series in adolescents and children, attaining high coverage of primary series - and booster doses as needed based on evidence of waning and optimizing vaccination impact - in highest risk subgroups, such as older adults, must be considered.

The WHO says as a matter of global equity, as long as many parts of the world are facing extreme vaccine shortages, countries that have achieved high vaccine coverage in their high-risk populations should prioritize global sharing of COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX facility before proceeding to vaccination of children and adolescents who are at low risk for severe disease.


Tue 1st February


FULL STORY: Dr Fong confirms 3 new COVID deaths of unvaccinated people which brings the number of deaths in the third wave to 105

By Naveel Krishant
Tuesday 01/02/2022
Permanent Secretary for Health Dr James Fong.

Permanent Secretary for Health Dr James Fong has confirmed 3 new COVID-19 deaths from the 27th to 28th January 2022.

He says the first COVID-19 death is of a 92-year old woman from the Central Division, who died at home on 27th January. She was not vaccinated.

The second COVID-19 death is of a 46-year old woman from the Western Division, who died at home on 27th January. She had significant pre-existing comorbidities and was not vaccinated.

The third COVID-19 death is of a 79-year old woman from the Central Division, who died at home on 28th January. She had congenital comorbidity and was not vaccinated.

This brings the total number of deaths in the third wave to 105.

Dr Fong says the initial and subsequent analysis of the deaths in the vaccine-eligible population during this third wave has revealed that fully vaccinated adults have a 16.2 times lower rate of death from COVID-19 than unvaccinated adults.

He further says this is comparable to rates seen overseas, which is an indication of the quality of our COVID-19 vaccination program, even with the urgency of ensuring rapid deployment of vaccines in a very short time period.

Dr Fong adds the huge difference in death rates between vaccinated and unvaccinated adults is even further evidence that vaccination lowers the risk of severe disease outcomes from COVID-19.

Meanwhile, Fiji has recorded 460 new cases of which 71 new cases were recorded on 29th January, 54 new cases were recorded on 30th January and 335 new cases in the last 24 hours ending at 8am yesterday.

Of the 460 cases recorded, 345 cases were in the Central Division; 71 cases in the Western Division, 43 cases in the Northern Division, and 1 case in the Eastern Division.


73,630 individuals have received booster doses

By Naveel Krishant
Tuesday 01/02/2022
[image: file]

As of January 31st, 73,630 individuals have received booster doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine from the 142,240 persons considered eligible.

The Permanent Secretary for Health Dr James Fong says this represents a 52% coverage rate for booster-eligible persons.

He says they are also expecting to receive more Pfizer vaccines this week to be used for booster doses and as a vaccine for children.

Dr Fong adds the booster vaccine and vaccination for children are not considered mandatory, however, they encourage all eligible individuals to be vaccinated or get a booster dose, and help navigate Fiji into a safer COVID zone that supports the socio-economic revival and safer reopening of schools.

Meanwhile, 92.7 percent of the adult target population have received two doses of a COVID vaccine.

FULL STORY HERE




The number of people being admitted to hospital because of COVID-19 remains low – Dr Fong

By Naveel Krishant
Tuesday 01/02/2022
[image: file]

100 COVID positive patients are currently admitted in hospital.

According to the Health Ministry, none are in critical or severe condition.

Permanent Secretary for Health Dr James Fong says there is a downward trend in daily hospitalisations.

He says anyone admitted to the hospital is tested before admission, therefore, a significant number of people are admitted to the hospital for non-covid health conditions, but incidentally, test positive due to the high amount of transmission in the community.

Dr Fong adds the number of people being admitted because of COVID-19 remains low.



Australia, NZ and UNICEF to provide 530,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine to Fiji

By Shanil Singh
Tuesday 01/02/2022
[Photo: Australia in Fiji]

Fiji’s fight against COVID-19 has been given a boost as 530,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine will be given over the next 3 months by Australia through a partnership with UNICEF and New Zealand.

It will be dedicated to children above the age of 12 years and will also be rolled out as part of Fiji’s COVID-19 booster program.

Permanent Secretary for Health, Doctor James Fong says these vaccines are crucial for Fiji as it will help save more lives in the third wave of the pandemic.

Dr Fong says protecting children and adults from infection and severe disease is a key part of our strategy to facilitate socio-economic recovery.

Australian High Commissioner to Fiji, John Feakes says this delivery will bring the total number of Australian-supplied vaccines in Fiji to over 1.6 million doses to support the country’s world-class vaccine rollout.

Feakes says Australia is also pleased to work with the Fijian Ministry of Health and UNICEF to upgrade Fiji’s cold chain storage to support the rollout of Pfizer vaccines.

New Zealand High Commissioner to Fiji, Charlotte Darlow says they are committed to assisting Fiji’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign after having already donated Pfizer vaccines for 12 to 14 year old children and 100,000 doses of AstraZeneca.

Darlow adds this latest donation is a further demonstration of their support to lifting vaccination rates and building COVID-19 resilience in Fiji.

UNICEF's Pacific Representative, Jonathan Veitch says these Pfizer vaccines will protect thousands of Fijian children against severe symptomatic illness from the virus.


Wed 2nd February


Pfizer vaccine to be rolled out next week – Dr Waqainabete

By Navitalai Naivalurua
Wednesday 02/02/2022
Health Minister Doctor Ifereimi Waqainabete

Health Minister Doctor Ifereimi Waqainabete says the Pfizer vaccine is expected to be rolled out next week for children between the ages of 12 to 14 years old.

Dr Waqainabete says last night 175,500 Pfizer doses arrived in the country and they are thankful to the government of Australia, New Zealand and UNICEF for their partnership in making sure the vaccines arrive safely in the country.

He adds the Pfizer vaccine will also be used as a booster shot.

The Minister is urging those eligible citizens who are due to take their booster shot to come forward because the vaccine will protect themselves and their loved ones.



Ministry looking at pharmacies opening Rapid Antigen Testing sites in communities

Questions asked on whether the test kits will be under price control
By Shanil Singh, Iva Danford, Navitalai Naivalurua
Wednesday 02/02/2022
Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong

The Ministry of Health has opened an expression of interest for pharmacies to open up Rapid Antigen Testing sites in communities.

Permanent Secretary Doctor James Fong says once this is done, they will then look at the possibility of doing more home quarantine for travellers.

He says they want the test to be done at the pharmacies and the result to be sent back to the Ministry although there will be people who will buy the test kits to take it home.

The cost for one Rapid Antigen Test at a lab is around $45 to $60 at the moment.

When questioned if government is looking at putting a price control on the test kits, Dr Fong says they have been working on improving access until now and will look at the price in the next phase.

Health Minister Doctor Ifereimi Waqainabete says they will only accept kits which meets the World Health Organization criteria.

Dr Waqainabete says whether these kits will be administered through pharmacies or even supermarkets will be something that the Fiji Pharmaceutical Board will advise on.

He says they want to encourage the opportunities for Antigen Testing to be widely available as long as they meet the criteria.

Shanil/Iva/Navi


Thu 3rd February


FULL STORY: 6 month old baby among the 8 new COVID-19 deaths bringing the total number of deaths in this third wave to 113

Dr Fong says while COVID-19 is and will be endemic it is not mild to vulnerable groups
By Naveel Krishant
Thursday 03/02/2022
Permanent Secretary for Health Dr James Fong.

A 6 month old baby from the Central Division has passed away due to COVID-19.

The Permanent Secretary for Health Dr James Fong says her medical records reflected that she had a congenital medical condition that contributed to the severity of her illness and death on Monday.

Dr Fong says she was not vaccinated as she did not belong to the eligible population for vaccination.

7 other deaths from the Central Division were confirmed overnight.

5 people were fully vaccinated.

This brings the number of deaths in the third wave to 113.

The first COVID-19 death is of a 72-year old woman from the Central Division, who died on 20th January. She was fully vaccinated.

The second COVID-19 death is of a 39-year old woman, who died at home on 23rd January. She was fully vaccinated.

The third COVID-19 death is of a 41-year old woman who was admitted at the CWM hospital on 10th January. She had significant pre-existing medical conditions which contributed to the severity of her illness. She passed away on 27th January. She was fully vaccinated.

The fourth COVID-19 death is of a 71-year old man from the Central Division, who was admitted at the CWM hospital on 13th January. He had pre-existing medical conditions and passed away on 27th January. He was not vaccinated.

The fifth COVID-19 death is of a 75-year old woman who passed away on 29th January. She was fully vaccinated.

The sixth COVID-19 death is of a 64-year old man who died at home on 30th January. He was fully vaccinated.

The seventh COVID-19 death is of a 66-year old man who died at home on 1st February. He was not vaccinated.

Dr Fong says we protect ourselves to protect the vulnerable and while COVID-19 is and will be endemic it is not mild to vulnerable groups and they will continue to need our protection.

He further says the deaths announced last night remain a sad reminder of the fact that, while transmission indicators are on a decline, and the majority of people infected are able to recover with no significant long-term effects, the vulnerable and more dependent members of our population will carry the weight of severe outcomes.

Meanwhile, Fiji has recorded 95 new cases of which 83 new cases were recorded on Tuesday and 12 new cases in the last 24 hours ending at 8am yesterday morning.


76,410 individuals have so far received booster doses

By Naveel Krishant
Thursday 03/02/2022
[image: file]

76,410 individuals have so far received booster doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

Permanent Secretary for Health Dr James Fong says for the month of February, a further 175,558 people have become eligible for booster doses.

Dr Fong says they received the first batch of Pfizer vaccines which will be handed over to the Ministry today.

This will be used for booster doses and as a vaccine for children.

He adds vaccination of children under 12 years remains part of ongoing discussions as sourcing vaccines remains difficult.

FULL STORY HERE




175,500 doses of the Pfizer vaccines handed over to the Ministry of Health

These vaccines will be used for booster shots and children above the ages of 12 yrs - Dr Fong
By Iva Danford
Thursday 03/02/2022
Permanent Secretary for health Doctor James Fong

175,500 doses of the Pfizer vaccines has been officially handed over to the Ministry of Health which will be used for booster shots and children above the ages of 12 years.

It has been confirmed that Pfizer doses are given at least 21 days apart.

These vaccines have been made available to Fiji through the partnership of Australia, New Zealand and UNICEF.

Permanent Secretary for health Doctor James Fong says they are happy that these doses have arrived as they will help them clear off their booster programs.

Dr Fong says most importantly they want to vaccinate the vulnerable as they are suffering a lot.

He says they will not be facing any difficulties in administering Pfizer vaccines in the Central Division as it is stored in an ultra-cold chain at the moment.

Dr Fong says having the ultra-cold chain means they can store the vaccine for a long time but there will be difficulties in deploying.

He says they are planning how the vaccines will be deployed and he hopes they will be done with it tomorrow so that they can start administering.

The Australian High Commissioner John Feakes says over the next 6 to 7 weeks the rest of the vaccines will be arriving and they are glad to be partnering with UNICEF and New Zealand in making the vaccines available for Fiji.

The UNICEF Representative for the Pacific, Jonathan Veitch says these special vaccines have come in a cold chain which is at -80 degrees and has a longer shelf life which can be used over the following months.

Veitch says it is a great advantage that the Fijian Government has installed and has an ultra-cold chain capacity in the country at the moment.



Trying to source vaccines for 5 to 12 yr olds is a bit complex as they have to be specifically made and is much more expensive - Dr Fong

Parents want to know when 5-12 yr olds will get vaccinated
By Vijay Narayan, Iva Danford
Thursday 03/02/2022
Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong

Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong says trying to source the pediatric doses for 5 to 12 years old is a little bit complex as these doses have to be specifically made and is much more expensive.

Dr Fong highlighted this when questioned by LegendFM News on when will these children be getting their doses as we now have Pfizer for those aged 12 years and above in the country.

A number of parents have contacted us, saying that they want to know the government’s plans for vaccination for those aged 5 to 12 years as Early Childhood Education to Year 7 students will have to return to school from Monday.

They are also worried that out of 113 COVID-19 deaths reported during the third wave of COVID, four deaths were under the age of 12 years and these children were not eligible for vaccination. These deaths were due to underlying medical conditions.

Individuals in the 12 to 17 years age group who have died were not vaccinated.

The parents that have contacted us and raised concerns about the safety and security of their children say the Ministry of Health has received reports of teachers and students testing positive for COVID-19 in schools.

Concerns have been raised that children under the age of 12 years will return to school from Monday and none of them have been vaccinated.

There is also a risk that it will be even harder for teachers to ensure these children follow all the protocols in place.

They are also saying that countries like the US and Australia are vaccinating children aged 5 years and up. They hope the same will be done in Fiji soon to protect the children.

While responding to the questions, Doctor Fong says usually manufacturers will want them to order by the many millions but our population that requires it is not even a million and we only have close to about 150,000 children.

Dr Fong says they will have to work with a group and that means there has to be a lot of negotiation and discussion.

We then questioned Dr Fong on when these negotiations will be done or if there is a timeline on when these children should get vaccinated as a lot of parents have raised serious concerns about schools opening for the unvaccinated children from Early Childhood Education to Year 7.

Dr Fong says he cannot confirm any timeline but we just need to be aware that the discussions are progressing and beyond that, the details need to be left to those that are progressing the discussions.

When questioned if they will be working with the Fijian Government in acquiring these vaccines for the 5 to 12-year-olds, the UNICEF Representative for the Pacific, Jonathan Veitch says this is something they will be discussing with the Health Ministry and the WHO over the coming months. Veitch says they believe that schools should be the last to close and the first to open.

He says if there are other public spaces open like restaurants, shops and bars, the schools should open as well because children are less vulnerable to adults than adults are.



Sat 5th February


FULL STORY: 2 month old baby among the 2 new COVID-19 deaths bringing the total number of deaths in this third wave to 115

By Dhanjay Deo
Saturday 05/02/2022
Permanent Secretary for Health Dr. James Fong.

A 2-month-old baby from Northern Division has passed away due to COVID-19.

He died at home last Wednesday.

The Permanent Secretary for Health, Dr James Fong says a thorough investigation was carried out by the Ministry of Health and the Police Forensics Unit and the infant’s death was classified as COVID-19 related.

The baby did not belong to the population age group for vaccination.

The second COVID-19 death is a 70-year old man from the Central Division, who died at home on Tuesday. He was fully vaccinated.

This brings the number of deaths in the third wave to 115.

Dr. Fong says the death of a 2 month old baby at home continues to remind us that severe rare outcomes become visible every time we allow the transmission to run rife among us.

He says as such, we cannot afford complacency in our vaccine plus endeavour and must do our best to protect the vulnerable by following COVID safe measures, getting fully vaccinated, and getting the booster dose when eligible.

Dr. Fong says the evidence internationally, including from the United Kingdom, is that a booster dose improves protection against symptomatic disease, which is reduced with infection with the omicron variant among the fully vaccinated and those previously infected with other variants. He adds studies are also showing that increased protection against symptomatic disease also decreases the risk of transmission to others, therefore, protecting the vulnerable.

Dr. Fong further says as we see a reducing trend in transmission, they anticipate the trends in deaths also to follow suit and therefore, expect the reduction in COVID restrictions to help improve further the social and economic recovery.

He adds while fully vaccinated people have died during this third wave, deaths in unvaccinated people in the vaccine eligible population are occurring at a massive 17 times the rate of the vaccinated.

Dr. Fong says this confirms what we already know from other countries, that vaccination reduces the risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19.

Meanwhile, Fiji has recorded 123 new cases of COVID-19 of which 55 new cases were recorded on Thursday and 68 new cases in the last 24 hours ending at 8am yesterday morning. This figure does not include all the Rapid Antigen tests done at the private labs.


We continue to receive requests for vaccine exemption from persons with medical comorbidities – Dr Fong

By Dhanjay Deo
Saturday 05/02/2022
Permanent Secretary for Health Dr James Fong.

The Permanent Secretary for Health, Dr James Fong says it is a grave concern that they continue to receive requests for vaccine exemption from persons with medical comorbidities, especially non-communicable diseases.

He says their medical condition is an indication for vaccination, and granting the exemption is not an option for any qualified medical person.

Dr Fong says they have noted how difficult it is to increase the vaccination coverage for the last 10% of the adult population despite the increased risk of severe outcomes in this group.

He says while they will continue to do their part to promote and deploy vaccines, they need community support to sustain the impact of their efforts especially to the vulnerable within this 10%.

Meanwhile, as of January 31st, 78,806 individuals have so far received booster doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

For the month of February, a further 175,558 people have become eligible for booster doses.

FULL STORY HERE



Sun 6th February


Year 13 external exams to resume on 14th Feb while Year 12 external exams deferred to next week as well

All primary and secondary schools in the West will be closed this week
By Dhanjay Deo
Sunday 06/02/2022
[Image: File Photo]

All primary and secondary schools in the Western Division will be closed this week due to flooding and bad weather.

Acting Prime Minister, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has confirmed this in a press conference.

He says primary and secondary schools in the Central, Eastern and Northern Divisions will be open tomorrow.

Sayed-Khaiyum says Year 13 external exams will resume on the 14th of this month while Year 12 external exams will also begin on the 14th of this month as well.


Order of papers in exam timetable for Year 12 and 13 students remains the same - Education Minister

9 schools used as evacuation centres and 3 flooded
By Semi Turaga
Sunday 06/02/2022
Education Minister Premila Kumar

Year 13 students will now sit for their remaining papers from the 14th of this month.

The Year 13 national examination started on the 1st this month.

Education Minister Premila Kumar says the order of papers will remain the same as it appears in the examination timetable.

She says Year 13 students have already sat for English, Biology, History, Home Economics, Accounting, Geography, and Technical Drawing papers.

Kumar adds when the examination starts on 14th February, Year 13 students will sit for Mathematics on Monday 14th February, Economics and Applied Technology on 15th February, Vosa Vaka Viti, Hindi, Urdu, Rotuman and Physics on 16th February, Agricultural Science and Office technology on 17th February and Chemistry and Computer Studies on 18th February.

She confirms that for Year 12, examination will now commence on 14th February, instead of 7th February and the order of papers will remain as in the original timetable.

Kumar adds the schools not affected by the flood will resume face to face classes for ECE to Year 11 from tomorrow, 7th February 2022 while Years 12 and 13 students will be on study break to prepare for their exams.

She says for the Western Division, all students from ECE to Year 13 are asked to remain at home.

Kumar confirms students from the Western Division will now return to school on 14 February 2022.

She adds teachers in the Western Division who are not affected by flooding should report to the school from tomorrow, 7th February 2022.

9 primary schools are currently used as evacuation centres and 3 schools - Ba Muslim, Ba Special School and Ratu Nemani Primary are flooded.



Qiliho says statistics over the last year and in the last 5 years show that the crime rate has decreased significantly

By Raynav Chand
Sunday 06/02/2022
Police Commissioner, Sitveni Qiliho

Police Commissioner, Sitveni Qiliho has reassured the citizens of Fiji that Police operations will continue in terms of keeping the crime rates low.

He says that statistics over the last year and in the last 5 years show that the crime rates have decreased significantly, more so, due to the curfew regulations.

However he says the challenge now is to keep it that way for the foreseeable future.

Qiliho revealed that there were no road fatalities recorded last month which is the first time that this has happened in 30 years.

He stated that checkpoints have been lifted and they have relied more on mobility, snap checkpoints and some static positions to monitor movements and deal with those that break the law.

The Commissioner also mentioned that the Police is more focused on rural areas during curfew hours therefore more interactions with the communities will take place due to the lifting of COVID regulations.

Despite the removal of the curfew, Qiliho says Police will remain on its toes to counter anyone that breaks the laws.




Curfew lifted from midnight

By Rashika Kumar
Sunday 06/02/2022
Acting Prime Minister, Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum.

The national curfew imposed from 12am to 4am for almost 2 years has been lifted.

Acting Prime Minister, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says they recognize the curfew had other benefits unrelated to the virus itself.

The Acting Prime Minister says they have spoken to many households who have told them that they were grateful to have their children and loved ones at home more often because of the curfew.

He says these are the benefits that came unexpectedly and hopefully more people will continue to spend more time with their loved ones at home and take care of the community.

Sayed-Khaiyum says they cannot justify the continuation of the curfew for the sake of just these benefits.



Acting PM announces progressive lifting of COVID restrictions

Curfew removed but no dancing and nightclubs
By Naveel Krishant
Sunday 06/02/2022
Acting Prime Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

Acting Prime Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says from tomorrow, public service vehicles can operate at full capacity, which include buses, mini-buses, carriers and taxis however the government will continue to enforce mask-wearing onboard all public service vehicles. While announcing the lifting of COVID related restrictions, Sayed-Khaiyum says indoor and outdoor sporting events, including competitive sports, may be held with spectators at 80% capacity provided those spectators wear masks.

Sayed-Khaiyum says even though the curfew is removed, nightclubs will not be allowed to operate.

He adds however, taverns, many of which used to be licensed as nightclubs, may open until 1am at 80% capacity throughout Fiji, provided that seating is properly spaced out, dancing is not allowed and all areas are well ventilated. He further says businesses, venues and houses of worship may open at full capacity, with the exception of high-risk businesses, which must operate at 80% capacity.

High-risk businesses include cinemas, bars, taverns, gyms, hairdressing and salon services, tattoo parlours and gaming venues. The Acting PM also highlighted that the careFIJI App and QR will not be required for entry into businesses and venues anymore because they are not presently relying on contact tracing as part of their COVID-19 response adding the careFIJI App may be required again in the future if the epidemiological situation changes, so please keep the app on your phone so it is easily available if needed.

Sayed-Khaiyum says the Vax Check tool is also no longer required for use by businesses given that Fiji is a highly vaccinated society.

He says however, the high-risk businesses like cinemas, bars, taverns, gyms, hairdressing and salon services, tattoo parlours and gaming venues and all Care Fiji Certified businesses will be required to check the vaccination cards of their patrons and customers.

Sayed-Khaiyum also says it is the responsibility of businesses to enforce COVID-safe behaviour on the premises and the fines for violations remain in effect.

He adds there is no more restriction on informal gatherings, including gatherings at home, effective immediately. Sayed-Khaiyum says they have also developed clearer guidance on where masks are required to be worn and the full guidance on mask-wearing will be published online.



Mon 7th February


Physical distancing is still part of the conditions for approved businesses – Dr Fong

Dr Fong says he needs to sort details to only allow vigorous exercise without masking
By Iva Danford
Monday 07/02/2022
Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong

Physical distancing is still part of the conditions for approved businesses.

This has been highlighted by Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong when questioned if the 2 metres distancing for office seating still applies for low-risk businesses.

Dr Fong says they want the community workplace managers and business owners to take on the responsibility of being COVID safe.

He says physical distancing is supposed to apply everywhere as they are just reducing the mandates around it and this does not mean they are giving up on it.

It was announced as part of the progressive lifting of COVID restrictions that businesses, venues, and houses of worship may open at full capacity, with the exception of high-risk businesses, which must operate at 80% capacity.

It was also announced that high-risk businesses include cinemas, bars, taverns, gyms, hairdressing and salon services, tattoo parlours and gaming venues.

The careFIJI App and QR will not be required for entry into businesses and venues anymore.

The Vax Check tool is also no longer required for use by businesses.

When further asked if people should mask up when they go for a walk or run, Dr Fong says this is the kind of detail he has to sort out to only allow vigorous exercise without masking.

He says that he is working on that exemption together with others.

Fijivillage also questioned Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho if people should mask up when they go for a walk or run because some people have been stopped by officers and warned.

Qiliho says some people that they have warned were not in training gear.

He says they will be enforcing what will be printed out in the gazette.



Is dancing allowed in functions like weddings and birthday parties?

Masking, physical distancing and ventilation are the main factors to consider when having outside functions – Dr Fong
By Vijay Narayan, Dhanjay Deo
Monday 07/02/2022
[Photo: Supplied]

Permanent Secretary for Health, Dr. James Fong says masking, physical distancing and ventilation are the main factors to consider when people are looking at COVID-19 risk mitigation measures for outside functions like weddings and birthday parties.

When asked by fijivillage on whether dancing is allowed in private functions like birthday parties and weddings, Doctor Fong says they are not having dancing and no nightclubs due to the lack of ventilation.

He says outside parties may be a different approach based on the risk mitigation measures.

Fijivillage has sent further questions for clarification on whether dancing is allowed for outside parties. We are awaiting for Doctor Fong’s assessment and response. Meanwhile Doctor Fong says they will maintain masking restriction for public spaces and within public service vehicles and the only change will be that they will move masking for everyone aged 8 years over.

He says there will be a number of other exceptions that they will be revealing soon.


Tue 8th February


Full Story: 2 new COVID deaths bring the total number of deaths in this third wave to 117

By Naveel Krishant
Tuesday 08/02/2022

The Health Ministry has reported 2 new COVID-19 deaths bringing the total number of deaths in this third wave to 117.

The first COVID-19 death is of a 75-year-old man from the Eastern Division, who was admitted at the CWM hospital on 31st January. He had pre-existing medical conditions and passed away on 1st February. He was not fully vaccinated.

The second COVID-19 death to report is of a 64-year-old man from the Central Division, who was admitted at the CWM hospital on 3rd February. He passed away on the 4th of February and had significant pre-existing medical conditions which contributed to his demise. He was not fully vaccinated.

Permanent Secretary for Health Dr James Fong says there has been a total of 813 deaths due to COVID-19 in Fiji.

Dr Fong says we have recorded 75 new cases of which 22 new cases were recorded on Saturday, 24 new cases were recorded on Sunday and 29 new cases in the last 24 hours ending at 8am yesterday.


83,908 individuals have so far received booster doses

By Naveel Krishant
Tuesday 08/02/2022

Permanent Secretary for Health Dr James Fong says 83,908 individuals have so far received booster doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

Dr Fong says for the month of February, a further 175,558 have become eligible for booster doses and they are targeting to cover all these eligible individuals in the days ahead.

He further says they have noted how difficult it is to increase their vaccination coverage for the last 10% of the adult population despite the increased risk of severe outcomes in this group.

Dr Fong adds while they will continue to do their part to promote and deploy vaccines, they need community support to sustain the impact of their efforts especially to the vulnerable within this 10%.

He reiterates that it is a grave concern that they continue to receive requests for vaccine exemption from persons with medical comorbidities, especially NCDs; their medical condition is an indication for vaccination, and granting the exemption is not an option for any qualified medical person.

Dr Fong also highlighted that while they have reported that fully vaccinated people have died during this third wave, deaths in unvaccinated people (in the vaccine eligible population) are occurring at over 17 times the rate of the vaccinated.





5,244 businesses assisted under the COVID-19 Recovery Credit Guarantee Scheme so far

By Shanil Singh
Monday 07/02/2022
Acting Prime Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum [image: Parliament of Fiji]

The Reserve Bank of Fiji has so far approved 5,244 loan applications worth $106.9 million under the COVID-19 Recovery Credit Guarantee Scheme.

Acting Prime Minister and Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says in addition to this the financial institutions are currently processing another 64 applications with a total value of $3.4 million.

Sayed-Khaiyum says government has so far paid $1.3 million in interest cost.

He says there were 2,509 applications for micro-enterprises, 1,648 applications for small businesses, 652 applications for medium businesses and 435 applications for large businesses.

$200 million was allocated for this scheme in the 2021/2022 National Budget.

This is a recovery scheme for MSMEs and also large businesses to assist them to meet their financial needs and recover from economic losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Existing micro businesses with turnover less than $50,000 are eligible for a maximum loan funding of $10,000.

Small businesses with an annual turnover of $50,000 to $300,000 are eligible for a maximum loan funding of $20,000, while medium-sized businesses with annual turnover of $300,000 to $1.25 million are eligible for a maximum loan of $50,000.


Wed 9th February


LTA urges people to continue masking up when in public service vehicles and drivers to enforce it

By Rashika Kumar
Wednesday 09/02/2022
Police officer checking COVID-19 protocols being followed on buses. Photo: Fiji Police Force

The Land Transport Authority is urging all Fijians to continue wearing masks while onboard public service vehicles to maintain their continued safety from the COVID-19 virus.

Acting Chief Executive Officer, Irimaia Rokosawa says he is also urging public service vehicles drivers to continue playing their part in enforcing the wearing of masks and their support in this regard is what helped them to get to us where we are today.

Rokosawa says the lifting of the limitation on passenger capacity is a very good sign of how far the nation has progressed in the fight against COVID-19 but Fijians must still be vigilant of its presence around us.

He adds the announcements made during the press conference in reference to the easing of COVID-19 restrictions certainly demonstrates how the hard work put in by the frontliners and everyday Fijians has paid off.

Rokosawa further says while it is a happy moment for all of us, we must keep in the back of our mind that COVID-19 is still around us, it is still a dangerous virus and in order to live with it, we still need to take some precautions, to prevent any possibilities of another wave.


Thu 10th February


Full Story: 3 new COVID deaths bring the total number of deaths in the third wave to 120

By Naveel Krishant
Thursday 10/02/2022
Permanent Secretary for Health Dr James Fong

Fiji has recorded 3 new COVID-19 deaths.

The first COVID-19 death is of a 59-year-old man from the Central Division, who was admitted at the CWM Hospital on 12th January. His pre-existing medical conditions contributed to the severity of his illness and he died on 7th February. He was fully vaccinated.

The second COVID-19 death is of a 64-year-old man from the Central Division, who was admitted at the CWM Hospital on 14th January. He died on 7th February and was fully vaccinated.

The third COVID-19 death is of a 55-year-old woman from the Central Division, who was admitted at CWM Hospital on 28th January. She died on 8th February and was fully vaccinated.

This brings the total number of deaths in the third wave to 120.

Permanent Secretary for Health Dr James Fong says there has been a total of 816 deaths due to COVID-19 in Fiji.

Dr Fong says Fiji has also recorded 36 new cases of which 20 new cases were recorded on Tuesday, and 16 new cases in the last 24 hours ending at 8am yesterday.


Pfizer vaccines to be rolled out from today

By Naveel Krishant
Thursday 10/02/2022

The Ministry of Health will roll out the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines effective from today.

They say the new batch of 530,000 Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines which arrived into the country this month, will be available as booster doses for adults aged 18 years and above, as well as for the vaccination of children aged 12-14 years old.

It says additionally, children aged 12-14 years old who are due to receive their second dose are encouraged to get vaccinated for maximum protection against COVID-19.

The Ministry further says as a result of the recent adverse weather conditions, there will be delays in the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines in the areas affected by heavy rain and floods.

Permanent Secretary for Health Dr James Fong says 83,908 individuals have so far received booster doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.




Sat 12th February


3 elderly people die due to COVID bringing the total number of deaths in the third wave to 123

By Naveel Krishant
Saturday 12/02/2022

3 elderly people have passed away due to COVID-19.

The first COVID-19 death is of a 74-year-old man from the Western Division, who died at home on 7th February. He was not vaccinated.

The second COVID-19 death is of an 86 year-old man from the Central Division, who was admitted at the CWM Hospital on 27th January. He passed away on 8th February and was not vaccinated.

The third COVID-19 death is of a 78-year-old woman from the Western Division, who died at home on 10th February. She had pre-existing medical conditions and was fully vaccinated.

This brings the total number of deaths in the third wave 123.

There has been a total of 819 deaths due to COVID-19 in Fiji.

Fiji has recorded 60 new cases of which 43 new cases were recorded on Thursday, and 17 new cases in the last 24 hours ending at 8am yesterday.



Unvaccinated individuals are not allowed to enter a house of worship, attend a sporting event or enter high risk businesses – Dr Waqainabete

By Naveel Krishant
Saturday 12/02/2022
Health Minister Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete

Health Minister Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete says whilst the requirement for checking of careFIJI app and Vax Check have been removed at businesses and venues, unvaccinated individuals are not allowed to enter a house of worship, or attend a sporting event.

Dr Waqainabete says unvaccinated individuals are also not allowed to enter high risk businesses such as cinemas, bars, taverns, gyms, hair salons, tattoo parlours and gaming venues.

The Health Minister further says therefore, those who are in charge of the these venues, businesses and houses of worship must ensure that they check the vaccine status of all those who enter their premises.

Dr Waqainabete adds COVID is still here and they hope that they will soon reach the stage where the disease is at low and safe levels for them to remove all the remaining restrictions.


Sun 13th February


More than 88,816 individuals have so far received booster doses

By Naveel Krishant
Sunday 13/02/2022

88,816 individuals have so far received booster doses of the Moderna and 35 individuals have received the Pfizer booster COVID-19 vaccine.

92.9 percent of the adult target population are fully vaccinated while 98.1 percent have received one dose.

Permanent Secretary for Health Dr James Fong says they have noted how difficult it is to increase their vaccination coverage for the last 8% of the adult population, despite the increased risk of severe outcomes in this group.

He says while they will continue to do their part to promote and deploy vaccines, they need community support to sustain the impact of their efforts especially to the vulnerable within this 8%.


Tue 15th February


Full Story: Elderly woman is latest COVID-19 death bringing total deaths in the 3rd wave to 124

By Semi Turaga
Tuesday 15/02/2022
CWM Hospital

There is one new COVID-19 death bringing the total number of COVID-19 deaths during the third wave to 124.

This latest death is a 91-year-old woman from the Central Division who died at home last Thursday. She was not vaccinated.

There has been a total of 820 deaths due to COVID-19 in Fiji.

Since last Friday, the Health Ministry has recorded 60 new cases of COVID-19.

There are 141 active cases of COVID-19 recorded by the Ministry.

This does not include the Rapid Antigen Tests done by people at home or those that self-isolate and take necessary action based entirely on their symptoms.


91,474 people boosted against COVID-19

By Rashika Kumar
Tuesday 15/02/2022

91,474 people have received their booster doses so far.

91, 414 received the booster doses by Moderna and 60 people received Pfizer booster.

The Ministry of Health says for the month of February, a further 175,558 have become eligible for booster doses and they are targeting to cover all these eligible individuals in the days ahead.

93% of the adult target population are fully vaccinated while 98.2% have received at least one dose.

30,823 children between the ages of 15 to 17 are fully vaccinated and 37,571 have received at least the first dose of the vaccine.

11,468 children between the ages of 12 to 14 have received both the doses of the vaccine while 21,872 have received at least one dose.

Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong says during this third wave, unvaccinated deaths in the vaccine-eligible population are occurring at 17 times the rate of vaccinated deaths.

He says this is a strong indication that many of the unvaccinated deaths in the vaccine-eligible population were preventable.

Dr Fong is strongly urge anyone who hasn’t been vaccinated to get vaccinated now because COVID-19 is here to stay, and Omicron will not be the last variant.




Thur 17th February


3 new COVID-19 deaths brings 3rd wave total to 127

By Semi Turaga
Thursday 17/02/2022
[image: File]

There were three new COVID-19 deaths from 2nd to 15th February 2022.

This has been confirmed by the Health Ministry in its latest update.

The three new deaths brings the total number of deaths during the third wave to 127.

The first COVID-19 death is a 42-year-old man from the Western Division, who died at home on 2nd February 2022. He was not vaccinated.

The second COVID-19 death is a 73-year-old woman from the Central Division, who died at home on 13th February 2022. She was not vaccinated.

The third COVID-19 death is a 59-year-old woman from the Western Division, who was admitted at Tavua Hospital on 12th February 2022.

She was not vaccinated.

There has been a total of 823 deaths due to COVID-19 in Fiji.



With the presence of Omicron & the threat of new variants, everyone must get at least 3 vaccine doses - Dr Fong

By Iva Danford
Thursday 17/02/2022
Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong

Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong says with the presence of Omicron and the threat of new COVID variants, everyone must get at least 3 vaccine doses and have sustained protection.

Doctor Fong highlighted this when questioned by fijivillage on what is being done for majority of the people who are eligible but have not received their booster shots as we may have a situation where protection for them wanes within six months.

He says he is concerned about the number of people that are due but have not gotten their booster shots.

When questioned on why booster doses are still not mandatory, Dr Fong says he would rather that everybody just keeps on coming out of their own free will because they are convinced that it is useful.

The Permanent Secretary says they hope that we do not have to need mandatory action to attain the level of protection that we need.

He says one good thing was that when the booster shot program started, the uptake was very fast.

The Ministry of Health has confirmed that as of February 14th, 94,566 individuals have so far received Moderna booster doses and 60 individuals have received the Pfizer booster.

The Ministry also stated that for February, a further 175,558 have become eligible for booster doses.


Fri 18th February


We have to explore the availability and the pediatric dose preparation of SPIKEVAX for use in children aged 6 years and older after TGA’s provisional approval the vaccine – Dr Fong

By Vijay Narayan
Friday 18/02/2022
Permanent Secretary for Health, Doctor James Fong

Permanent Secretary for Health, Doctor James Fong says they will have to explore the availability and the pediatric dose preparation of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, SPIKEVAX, for use in individuals aged 6 years and older after Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) provisionally approved the vaccine.

After the announcement by TGA, Doctor Fong says they are continuing in their efforts to look at options for vaccination of children under 12 years.

He also says this announcement does auger well for easier deployment.

TGA says their decision follows the provisional approvals granted by the TGA to Moderna for the use of SPIKEVAX in individuals aged 12 years and older on 3rd September 2021, and on 7th December 2021 the SPIKEVAX booster dose for use in adults 18 years and older.

As for other age groups, the use of this vaccine in children aged 6 to 11 years should be administered as 2 doses at least 28 days apart.

The same vaccine preparation employed for older age groups will be used, however, a lower dose of 0.25 mL (50 micrograms) will be given to children 6 to 11 years, compared to the 0.5 mL (100 microgram) dose used for those 12 years and older.

In making this regulatory decision, the TGA carefully considered data from the KidCOVE clinical trial, which was conducted at multiple sites throughout Canada and the United States and included up to 4,000 participants aged 6 to 11 years. The study demonstrated that the immune response to the vaccine in children was similar to that seen in older age groups.

Clinical trials also showed that the safety profile in children is similar to that seen in adults. The most frequent adverse events seen in clinical trials in children aged 6 to 11 years were short-term and included injection site pain, redness and/or swelling, axillary (groin) swelling or tenderness, fatigue, headache, fever and muscle pain.

Further advice on the rollout of SPIKEVAX to this age group will be provided to Government by the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI).

Provisional approval of this vaccine for individuals 6 years and older is valid for two years. The approval is subject to certain strict conditions, such as the requirement for Moderna to continue providing information to the TGA on longer term efficacy and safety from ongoing clinical trials and post-market assessment.

TGA says Australians can be confident that the TGA's review process of this vaccine was rigorous and of the highest standard.

The decision to provisionally approve the vaccine was also informed by expert advice from the Advisory Committee on Vaccines (ACV), an independent committee with expertise in scientific, medical and clinical fields including consumer representation.

The TGA will continue to actively monitor the safety of the vaccine in children and adults both in Australia and overseas and will not hesitate to take action if safety concerns are identified.

As an extra check, the TGA laboratories will undertake batch assessment of each batch of the vaccine before it can be supplied in Australia.

The TGA will publish the Australian Public Assessment Report for this decision in the coming days.


Sat 19th February


Full Story: 1 new COVID-19 death brings total deaths in the 3rd wave to 128

By Semi Turaga
Saturday 19/02/2022

There have been 128 COVID-19 deaths in the third wave so far.

This is according to the latest update by the Health Ministry.

One new COVID-19 death was reported overnight.

It is a 68-year-old man from the Central Division who was admitted at the CWM Hospital on 9th February 2022.

This man had a significant pre-disposing medical condition which contributed to the severity of his illness and he died on 13th February 2022.

He was fully vaccinated.

There has been a total of 824 deaths due to COVID-19 in Fiji.


96,515 people boosted so far

By Rashika Kumar
Saturday 19/02/2022

96,515 people have received booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccine so far while 93.1% of the adult target population have received two doses.

The Health Ministry says for the month of February, a further 175,558 have become eligible for booster doses and they are targeting to cover all these eligible individuals in the days ahead.

98.2% of the adult target population have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

30,905 children between the ages of 15 to 17 and 12,336 children between the ages of 12 to 14 are fully vaccinated.

37,628 children between the ages of 15 to 17 and 22,290 children between the ages of 12 to 14 have received at least one dose of the vaccine.





Masking, physical distancing and ventilation must constantly be present - Dr Fong

By Semi Turaga
Saturday 19/02/2022
Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong

Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong stresses that masking, physical distancing and ventilation are three measures that must constantly be present.

Doctor Fong adds when one of the measures becomes difficult to apply, implementation of the other two measures must be further escalated.

He says they have had inquiries from the public on further relaxation of personal covid safe measures such as masking.

Doctor Fong stresses that whatever the scenario, an effective mask must be kept close by you at all times.

He says the current masking requirement of wearing a mask that covers your nose and mouth is mandatory in all public places for everyone aged 8 and over, including in public service vehicles remains in force.

Doctor Fong adds the Ministry of Health and Medical Services has published a list of circumstances where a person is exempt from wearing a mask.



There have been no COVID-19 deaths in individuals who received a booster dose - Health Ministry

By Semi Turaga
Saturday 19/02/2022

An analysis by the Health Ministry says unvaccinated adults in Fiji have been dying at a rate 17.8 times higher than fully vaccinated adults during the third wave of COVID-19.

There have been 128 deaths during the third wave.

Five deaths were in the population not eligible for vaccination which is under age of 12.

The Health Ministry says individuals of the 12-17 age group who died were not vaccinated.

There were 7 deaths below the age of 19 years and 6 out of the 7 children had significant pre-existing medical conditions while one child had no known underlying medical condition.

It says there have been no COVID-19 deaths in individuals who received a booster of the vaccine.


Tue 22nd February


FULL STORY: 2 new deaths brings total COVID-19 deaths in the 3rd wave to 130

By Semi Turaga
Tuesday 22/02/2022
Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong

130 people have died from COVID-19 during the third wave in Fiji.

This is after two new COVID-19 deaths were reported overnight.

The Health Ministry confirms the first COVID-19 death is a 73-year-old woman from the Western Division who died at home on the 28th of last month.

She was not vaccinated.

The second COVID-19 death is a 79-year-old man from the Eastern Division who died at home on the 20th of this month.

He had predisposing medical conditions and was not vaccinated.

There has been a total of 826 deaths due to COVID-19 in Fiji.


Current stocks of AstraZeneca has finished and more stock to arrive in the next 6 weeks

97,215 boosted so far
By Rashika Kumar
Tuesday 22/02/2022
[Image: Fijian Government]

The Ministry of Health says the current stocks of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine has finished and they will get more stocks in the next 6 weeks.

Permanent Secretary for Health, Doctor James Fong says they will continue to deploy Moderna and Pfizer as primary doses for children and adults and booster doses for adults.

He says many questions have been received on the role of post-infection immunity in defining the COVID-protected population.

Dr. Fong says then immunity gained through a vaccination program remains the only means by which we can measure immunity and therefore refine public health measures in the face of the ongoing risk of variant development and therefore future outbreaks.

He further says the Health Ministry will continue to monitor the advisories on post-infection immunity based on quality data that is being generated globally.

As of yesterday, 97,215 individuals have so far received booster doses.

93.1% of the adult target population are now fully vaccinated while 98.2% have received at least one dose.

30,930 children between the ages of 15 to 17 and 12,764 children between the ages of 12 to 14 are fully vaccinated.

37,638 children between the ages of 15 to 17 and 22,455 children between the ages of 12 to 14 have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Click here for the FULL STORY




Sat 26nd February


2 month old baby among the 7 new COVID-19 deaths bringing the total number of deaths in the third wave to 137

By Dhanjay Deo
Saturday 26/02/2022
Permanent Secretary for Health, Dr. James Fong.

A 2 month old baby from the Western Division is among the seven new COVID-19 deaths recorded between 24th January and 9th February this year.

This brings the total number of deaths in the third wave to 137.

The baby died at home on the 25th of last month. He had been sick for 2 days prior to his death.

The Permanent Secretary for Health, Dr. James Fong says the baby’s hospital records reflected a congenital medical condition from birth which had contributed to the severity of his illness.

The second COVID-19 death is a 89-year-old man from the Western Division, who died at home and was not vaccinated.

The third death is a 36-year-old fully vaccinated woman from the Western Division, who died at home. She had predisposing medical conditions which were assessed to have contributed to the severity of her illness.

The fourth COVID-19 death is a 72-year-old woman from the Western Division, who died at home and was not vaccinated.

The fifth death is a 78-year-old fully vaccinated woman from the Western Division, who died at home.

The sixth COVID-19 death is a fully vaccinated 68-year-old man from the Western Division, who died at home. He had predisposing medical conditions which were assessed to have contributed to the severity of his illness.

The seventh death is a 63-year-old woman from the Western Division, who died at home. She was not vaccinated.

Dr. Fong says these deaths are reported today due to the recent issuance of death certificates.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health has recorded 35 new cases of COVID-19 of which 24 new cases were recorded on Tuesday and 11 new cases in the last 24 hours ending at 8am yesterday morning.


Tue 01st March


87-year-old woman dies from COVID-19

By Semi Turaga
Tuesday 01/03/2022

A new COVID-19 death has been reported by the Health Ministry.

This is an 87-year-old woman from the Central Division who died at home on the 25th of last month.

She was not vaccinated.

There have been a total of 834 deaths due to COVID-19 in Fiji.

Since Saturday, the Health Ministry has recorded 103 new cases of COVID-19.

There are 289 active cases of COVID-19 in Fiji.



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