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.
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.
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%.
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.
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