By Lice Movono for RNZ Pacific
Fiji's Covid-19 figures for August show a continuing trend with 682 cases and six more deaths in the 24-hour period to 8am, according to the Permanent Secretary for Health Dr James Fong.
They are a huge increase when compared with the same month-start period in July.
Health authorities have already reported more than 6500 new infections, twice the 1743 reported for the same period last month.
In terms of deaths, August has already registered 57 compared to nine in July.
By the end of July, Fiji's Ministry of Health and Medical Services had recorded 25,363 new infections and 218 deaths for the month.
While most of the deaths have been the elderly, there continues to be an upward trend of younger Fijians.
Last night, an 18-year-old woman from Suva died at home from the virus.
"Her family reported that she had a cough five days prior to her presentation," Dr Fong said.
"She was not vaccinated."
A 21-year-old man from an island off of Rakiraki almost 150km northwest of Suva also died.
"He was declared dead on arrival by the attending medical officer at the Rakiraki Sub-Divisional Hospital. This means that he died at home or on his way to the hospital. His family reported that he had shortness of breath one day prior to presentation," Dr Fong said.
"He received his first dose of the vaccine in early May. He did not receive the second dose of the vaccine. This means that he was not fully vaccinated."
Other deaths to younger patients included a toddler who died this month and a 15-year-old who passed away last month.
Fong also noted alarming increases of new infections in the Western Division of the country which had dramatically reduced its cases to close to zero after the initial April outbreak.
He said there was "evidence of community transmission in that division.
"We are also recording increasing numbers of people with severe disease and deaths in the west. The northern and eastern divisions currently have no active cases."
Vaccination continues to be the main strategy of the Government's response with the rollout gaining ground despite increasing reluctance among the indigenous and Christian population.
By Saturday, the Health Ministry said it had administered the first dose of vaccines to 87.3 per cent of the target population, or 600,000 people, while 30.4 per cent were fully vaccinated.
The seven-day daily test average is 3234 per day or 3.5 tests per 1000 population.
That puts the country's daily test positivity rate at 32 per cent. The World Health Organisation threshold for an out-of-control pandemic is a daily test positivity rate at 5 per cent which Fiji had passed in June.
There are now 24,070 active cases in isolation, with a quarter of them at home due to a lack of hospital beds.