Fiji has recorded it’s fourth COVID-19 death.
Permanent Secretary for Health, Doctor James Fong says a woman from the recent Makoi cluster who tested positive for COVID-19, was entered into intensive care after her condition began rapidly deteriorating.
He says he is sad to report that, despite the best efforts of her attending physicians, she has passed away.
Doctor Fong says they informed this woman’s family of her passing and offered them their sincere condolences well before making the announcement to the nation, as they wanted them to have time to process this privately.
He offers the nation the Ministry of Health’s total commitment to spare as many families as they can from the tragedy of seeing loved ones lost to this terrible disease.
Doctor Fong says this is our second reported death from COVID-19 due to this outbreak.
He says it serves as yet another painful reminder of the severity of the threat that we face.
The Permanent Secretary says they are dealing with a virus that has claimed more than 3.7 million lives around the world.
He says many more Fijian lives could all-too-easily add to that sobering figure but that does not have to happen.
Doctor Fong calls on people to adhere to COVID safety measures.
The worrying trend of increasing COVID-19 cases with no links to other cases continues as Fiji has recorded four new COVID-19 cases.
Permanent Secretary for Health, Doctor James Fong says the first case is from Makoi and presented to Oceania Hospital with symptoms.
He says at this early stage of the investigation, this case has no known links to other cases.
The Oceania Hospital Outpatients Department was temporarily closed on Wednesday for contact tracing and decontamination. Anyone who potentially had contact with this case at the hospital has been quarantined.
Doctor Fong says the second case is also from Makoi and is an administration staff member of the Fiji Centre for Disease Control.
The Permanent Secretary says according to the Fiji Centre for Disease Control protocol, the staff was tested after returning this week from annual leave.
The next two cases are administrative staff at the Fiji CDC who had tested negative during routine testing earlier this week, but tested positive as part of contact tracing for this new case.
The three staff who have tested positive for the virus have been transferred to isolation facilities.
Doctor Fong says their investigations so far indicate that this cluster originated outside of the Fiji Centre for Disease Control and the virus was then brought in, as would be an expected consequence of community transmission.
He says apart from these three cases, all other Fiji CDC staff have tested negative so far, including all of the laboratory and medical staff in the centre.
The COVID tests are conducted at the centre.
Doctor Fong says they know that there was limited contact between administration staff and the lab personnel due to existing protocols, however, as a result of these cases, Fiji CDC has been separated, with staff onsite, or placed in quarantine facilities.
He says testing has temporarily halted while decontamination is being completed.
Doctor Fong says the onsite staff will continue processing samples after decontamination of the facility and they will be tested and retested frequently during their isolation period, similar to what is happening at Lautoka Hospital.
The Permanent Secretary for Health Dr James Fong says they believe this virus is still circulating in Nadi, in Lautoka, in Rakiraki, in Lami and, potentially,throughout the rest of Viti Levu.
Dr Fong says right now, the pandemic in Fiji is only a spark, but if that spark is not quickly and aggressively extinguished, a tiny ember is all it takes to start a massive, uncontrollable wildfire that claims thousands of Fijian lives.
Dr.Fong says that’s why they are taking such aggressive measures and their goal is elimination adding they must dedicate everything they have into putting out this flame before it grows.
He further says given the rapidly rising number of contacts stemming from new cases of COVID-19 in the Suva- Nausori area, the Suva-Nausori lockdown will commence from 11 o’clock tonight until Wednesday, the 19th of May, at 4am.
Dr.Fong is urging Fijians living in the Suva and Nausori containment areas to make appropriate preparations for an all-day stay-at-home order which will remain in force from this evening, the 14th of May, at 11pm until Wednesday morning, the 19th of May,at 4am.
He says the rules of the lockdown will be the same as last time, no one should leave their home, no businesses should be open except those given explicit permission to operate and movement for medical emergencies is the only movement that will be permitted for members of the public.
Dr.Fong says otherwise, it will be only the Police, his contact tracers, food ration delivery teams, and other essential service providers, on the streets and no one else.
He assures people food rations will be available during the later stages of the lockdown period for Fijians living within the Suva-Nausori Lockdown Zone who have a genuine need for an emergency food supply.
Dr.Fong says outside of the lockdown zone, the borders of the other containment areas will remain firmly in place for the foreseeable future adding that as announced on Wednesday, to further restrict movement, the 6pm until 4am curfew will take effect from tomorrow for the rest of Viti Levu.
He is once again urging people to practice COVID safe guidelines such as physical distancing, mask-wearing, having the careFiji app adding that nothing kills the virus more assuredly than staying at home.
Dr Fong says but on the contrary, if rules are broken, Fijians will die not the virus.
The Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong says in some countries around the world, the public and even governments have failed to take this virus seriously and the pattern is emerging in Fiji and this complacency is unacceptable.
Doctor Fong says some people have continued on with their normal lives, breaking rules and skirting restrictions.
He says other citizens in some countries waited for a famous celebrity, a sports hero, or more of their loved ones to die from COVID before they recognised the severity of this pandemic and by that point, it was too late.
Doctor Fong says the harder they come down on this virus now, the sooner this will be over.
He says we are fighting for the sake of normalcy and to regain the freedom to live our lives without fear of the virus.
Doctor Fong says we are also fighting to allow our economy to operate freely at its full strength and it is a fight we can win, but only if we fight it together.
Health Ministry’s Permanent Secretary Dr James Fong says thousands of Fijians received text alerts on Wednesday alerting them that they may have had contact with some of the new cases confirmed at Extra Supermarket.
Dr Fong says their contact tracing investigation has since narrowed that number of contacts, and they have let some of those people know they are no longer considered to be at high risk of exposure but he hopes that experience has taught everyone how easily even one case can spark an outbreak, and how high the risks of leaving your bubble can be.
Dr Fong says it has also taught us how vitally important it is for us all to be using the careFIJI app with our Bluetooth switched on, whenever we are in public.
He further says there are currently 52 known active cases of COVID-19 in the country and from that number of cases, there are already thousands of primary and secondary contacts, stretching his contact tracers to their limit.
Dr Fong adds that the careFIJI app eases that growing burden and its technology does not depend on the limits of human labour.
He says the app does not get tired, it does not take breaks, it works 24/7 to save your life, and the lives of your loved ones, by stopping the spread of the virus as quickly as possible.
Dr Fong says the app does not drain your battery, it does not burn through your data and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying to you.
The Head of Health Protection Dr Aalisha Sahukhan says the news has not been good for some time now as more cases are appearing in the community without any link to the other cases.
Dr Sahukhan says all indications are that things will get much worse before it gets better.
She says the recent cases at the Fiji Centre for Disease Control hits her at a more personal level because the people at the Centre are part of her team.
Dr Sahukhan says in ordinary times she would be with the team at CDC if it was not for the outbreak.
Dr Sahukhan has also revealed that there are now 52 active cases in isolation facilities where six are border quarantine cases, 33 are locally transmitted while 13 are under investigation.
Fiji has now had 162 cases in total since our first case and we have had 109 recoveries with four deaths.
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