Four new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed after another 2065 tests.
Permanent Secretary for Health, Doctor James Fong says one case is extremely serious.
He says the patient, case 125, is a 53-year-old man who was admitted to the Lautoka Hospital on the 19th of April 2021 for a surgical procedure.
The procedure was performed successfully however on the 28th of April, he developed some respiratory symptoms.
Doctor Fong says on the 29th of April, he was seen by case 120, the 25-year-old doctor at Lautoka Hospital.
The Permanent Secretary says the man was asked to be swabbed for COVID-19 however he refused on two occasions.
The doctor developed symptoms on May 1st, and tested positive yesterday.
Doctor Fong says on the 2nd of May, the same patient was assessed by case 121, the 30-year-old doctor from Lautoka Hospital.
He says they know that this doctor, case 121, had tested negative for the virus on April 26th, he tested positive yesterday as part of contact tracing for case 120, and his results indicate he very recently caught the virus.
Early today, the patient’s condition began deteriorating.
He was moved into an intensive care unit and swabbed for the virus. Barely four hours ago he tested positive for COVID-19.
Doctor Fong says his condition will be discussed more with his family before any public announcement.
The Permanent Secretary says the man’s described timeline and the recent deterioration in his condition indicate he is likely a late-stage carrier of the virus.
Doctor Fong says they suspect that this patient, who is case number 125, transmitted the virus to the doctors, not the other way around.
He says they do not know when or where this patient contracted the virus as it could have been from outside or within the hospital.
The other local case is a 27-year-old woman who resides in Narere.
She entered quarantine on 28th April 2021 as a contact of one of the cases from Makoi.
Further investigations revealed that, during a family gathering on April 17th, she also had close contact with another case from Makoi.
Doctor Fong says she was confirmed as positive for COVID-19 this morning.
He says that gathering is now potentially the source point of three cases.
Doctor Fong says it was only a small family gathering with members from a few different households, but that was more than enough to have national ramifications.
He says it is why one of the first and most important health measures they introduced was to limit gatherings, of all sizes, everywhere in Fiji. The members of the Narere woman’s household have also been in quarantine from 29th April.
He says all have tested negative for COVID-19 at this time.
Doctor Fong says unfortunately, she did not have the careFIJI app installed, so they are relying entirely on the traditional contact tracing methods.
He says if she had the careFIJI app and had kept it on, this could all happen much faster.
The Permanent Secretary says with more than 250,000 downloads, careFIJI is rapidly being widely adopted across Fiji but on behalf of the contact tracers, Doctor Fong says he won’t stay quiet about the need for more downloads of the app until that number surpasses 600,000, which is the number of smartphones in Fiji.
There were two border quarantine cases.
These are both soldiers returning from their tours of duty as peacekeepers in Sinai.
Lautoka Hospital is now a tightly contained COVID care facility, with more than 400 patients, doctors, nurses, and other staff effectively quarantined within the hospital until the Health Ministry can determine who else may or may not have had contact with the 53-year patient who had tested for COVID.
Doctor Fong says from a statistical standpoint, Intensive Care Unit cases, like the one we now have at Lautoka Hospital, maybe a red flag for widespread transmission.
He also says that it tells us that there are likely many more cases of the virus out there.
Doctor Fong says they have dreaded a worst-case scenario such as this since the day of our first case in March of last year. He says those months of planning have informed an immediate whole-of-government course of action.
He says to prevent the hospital from becoming ground-zero for a wider outbreak, the members of the disciplined forces have locked down Lautoka Hospital in a matter of hours.
Some staff who have left the hospital have been called back in.
RFMF personnel and members of the Police have ring-fenced the entire hospital and will strictly manage who is allowed onto the premises.
The Lautoka Hospital will be closed to the public, all medical services will be re-routed to a network of back-up hospitals in Nadi, Ba, and Sigatoka, as well as the Punjas and Kamikami health centres in Lautoka.
He says the borders of the containment areas are open to those travelling for medical emergencies, so this can already be facilitated.
Doctor Fong says given they expect more cases, and more severe cases, sections within the Lautoka Hospital are being converted into intensive care units which will house additional beds and ventilators.
The staff of Lautoka Hospital will be accommodated and work within the hospital while contact tracing continues.
The staffing capacity in Lautoka Hospital was already stretched due to the quarantine of the close contacts of the two doctors.
He says those who are working will operate on high-alert, fully-equipped in the proper personal protective equipment.
They will be screened regularly and tested often.
Doctor Fong says they are going to provide the staff with any and all support that they need.
He says they will provide food, supplies, bedding, and whatever they require. The Permanent Secretary also says there is going to be a lot more swabbing around Lautoka.
Permanent Secretary for Health, Doctor James Fong says they can confirm that the first COVID-19 case of unknown origin in Ra had the virus which is genetically identical to other local cases, and it is the same B1.617 variant that was first detected in India.
Doctor Fong says they have received the genomic sequencing result from the Microbiological Diagnostic Unit at the Peter Doherty Institute in Melbourne with regards to the Ra case.
He says while they have not established a direct person-to-person link to other local cases, they know that this case is linked to the others, and is within the same cluster that links back to the border quarantine facility.
The two soldiers who are the latest border quarantine cases are a 33-year-old and a 46-year-old who returned from peacekeeping duties from Sinai on the 27th of last month.
The Head of Health Protection Dr Aalisha Sahukhan says they tested positive during routine testing while undergoing mandatory quarantine in a quarantine facility.
Sahukhan says 9 more patients have recovered.
Fiji currently has 39 active cases, 8 are border quarantine cases, 28 are locally transmitted cases while 3 cases are under investigation.
Sahukhan further says 58,321 lab tests have been conducted while the daily testing average is 1,281.
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