A drop in daily Covid-19 cases in Fiji should not be interpreted as a true reduction of infections, and could be due to changes in testing, the government said.
Thirteen people, including a 25-year-old, have died from Covid-19 in the country for the 24 hours to 8am Wednesday. The country has a seven-day rolling average of seven Covid deaths per day.
The Health Ministry reported six deaths were reported from the Central Division and seven from the West, and 568 new cases. There had been 264 cases and 10 deaths in the previous 24 hour period.
New cases soared at the start of August, with the case count exceeding 1000 cases for several days.
Health Secretary James Fong said of the latest cases, 262 were reported in Western Division and 306 in Central Division.
He said over the last few weeks, the ministry has had to shift and re-strategise their Covid-19 testing plan to address the significant pressure on laboratories and health services in both divisions.
This included being more targeted with testing "so we can provide a rapid turnaround of results for those most at risk of severe Covid-19."
"We can anticipate that these shifts have an impact on our daily reported case numbers, and this is why it is critical that we use various data to inform our understanding of the current situation in these divisions," Dr Fong told a media conference in Suva last night.
"Currently, our surveillance teams are rapidly analysing various data sources to help us build a clearer picture of the current transmission in these two divisions.
"However, we do know that the risk of exposure to the virus in both Central and Western divisions remains extremely high with significant community transmission of the virus."
New Zealand yesterday added Fiji to the list of countries designated as very high risk for Covid-19, which limits travel from the Pacific island nation.
From 11:59pm (NZ time) on August 15 travel to New Zealand from Indonesia and Fiji will be restricted to New Zealand citizens, their partners and children, parents of any dependent children who are New Zealand citizens and children of those parents allowed entry but who are not New Zealand citizens.
Any travellers from both Fiji and Indonesia who meet the restrictions must spend 14 days in MIQ when they arrive in New Zealand.
Fiji's Ministry of Health said since the last update 664 people recovered, leaving 24,299 active cases in isolation. In total 38,344 cases have been detected during the outbreak that started in April this year.
The total death toll from Covid-19 is 340 people. All but two died in the latest outbreak that began in April.
Other deaths not among the Covid-19 count
Six other patients with Covid-19 also died in the latest 24 hour reporting period. However Dr Fong said their deaths were caused by serious pre-existing medical conditions and not due to the coronavirus.
"The national seven-day rolling average of Covid deaths per day is seven; the seven-day rolling average in the Central Division is five deaths and the Western Division is two," he said.
Since the start of the pandemic, Dr Fong said 177 Covid-19 positive patients had died from serious medical conditions they had before they contracted the coronavirus; "these are not classified as Covid deaths."
Hospitalisations and testing
At present there were 300 Covid-19 patients currently in hospital; 70 at Lautoka Hospital, 68 at the FEMAT field hospital, and 162 at Colonial War Memorial and St Giles hospitals in Suva and nearby Makoi hospital.
Dr Fong said the condition of 62 patients was severe, and 12 were in critical condition.
He said people were still coming in to hospital in the late stages of serious illness, which reduced their chances of survival.
"Severe Covid-19 is a medical emergency, and a delay in receiving appropriate medical treatment reduces your chance of recovering."
Mobile teams screened 1812 people in the last 24 hours, and swabbed 116, (the mobile total is now 785,521 people screened and 69,322 swabbed), and stationary clinics had screened 6114 people and swabbed 776 (the stationary clinic total is now 438,288 screened and 77,238 swabbed).
"A total of 299,389 samples have been tested since this outbreak started in April 2021, with 342,250 tested since March 2020."
Dr Fong said the seven-day daily test average is 2215, which equates to 2.5 tests per 1000 population.
Test positivity - the percentage of people who test positive for every hundred tested - was at a national seven-day daily average of 34.5 per cent. The World Health Organisation test positivity threshold for governments to consider relaxing restrictions is test positivity is 5 per cent.
Dr Fong said by 10 August: "523,285 adults in Fiji have received their first dose of the vaccine and 196,873 have received their second dose.
"This means that 89.2 per cent of the target population have received at least one dose and 33.6 per cent are now fully vaccinated nation-wide.
"Fijians can check the Ministry's vaccine dashboard to find real-time data on first-dose and second-dose numbers at the national, divisional, and sub-divisional levels."
Ministry of Health details for the 13 latest deaths:
Dr Fong said three of the 13 people who died of Covid-19 were vaccinated, but they had symptoms of the illness before then having the second vaccine. He reiterated that the vaccine was not a cure for those already infected or sick with the virus, and it does not become fully effective until two weeks after the last dose.
No one in Fiji had died of Covid-19 when they were fully protected by the vaccine (two weeks or more after their second vaccine), he said.
• A Sigatoka man, 41 years old, presented to Sigatoka Hospital on 4 August in severe respiratory distress. His family reported that he had a cough, fever and shortness of breath for six days. He was brought to Lautoka Hospital on the same day, where he tested positive for Covid-19, but died four days later.
• A woman from Tamavua in Suva, 86 years old, presented to the Colonial War Memorial Hospital in severe respiratory distress and tested positive for Covid-19 on 5 August, but died three days later.
• A woman from Lautoka, 25, presented to Lautoka Hospital on 6 August in severe respiratory distress. Her family reported that she had a cough, sore throat and shortness of breath one week prior to her presentation to the hospital. She died two days later.
• A man from Lami near Suva, 39, presented to the FEMAT field hospital in severe respiratory distress on 8 August. He died on the same day.
• A woman from Lami, 88, died at home on 10 August.
• A man from Ba, 88, presented to the Ba Mission Hospital in severe respiratory distress on 9 August. He died the next day.
• A woman from Ba, 86, was declared dead on arrival by the attending medical officer at the Ba Mission Hospital on 7 August. Dr Fong said this meant that she had died at home or on her way to the hospital.
• A woman from Ba, 60, was declared dead on arrival by the attending medical officer at the Ba Mission Hospital on 8 August. This means that she died at home or on her way to the hospital, Dr Fong said.
• A man from Sigatoka, 82, was declared dead on arrival by the attending medical officer at Sigatoka Hospital on 7 August.
• A man from Sigatoka, 84, was declared dead on arrival by the attending medical officer at Sigatoka Hospital on 8 August.
• A man from Nasinu, 56, died at home on 10 August.
• A man from Nasinu, 57, died at home on 10 August.
• A man from Nausori, 77, presented to the Colonial War Memorial Hospital in severe respiratory distress on 4 August. He died six days later.