Covid 19 coronavirus: Fiji reports 1163 new cases, six deaths – including a baby

An 11-month-old baby is among the latest victims of Covid-19 in Fiji, health authorities said.

The government reported 1163 new cases and six deaths in the 24 hours to 8am yesterday.

That compares with 1301 cases and nine deaths in the previous 24-hour period.

Health Secretary Doctor James Fong said all the latest victims were unvaccinated.

He said severe disease and death due to the coronavirus among infants were rare.

“However the doctors overseeing this baby’s care confirmed that he did die because of Covid-19,” Dr Fong said. “And we know that once a very high level of infections are reached in the community, these rare events do occur.

“It is an absolute tragedy when the most vulnerable in our community, our babies, become victims of this awful disease.

“It is why we at the Ministry are following the science and advice of WHO very closely with regards to the vaccination of those below the age of 18, and we are making arrangements to import more vaccines once we know that they are proven to offer safe and effective protection for children against the virus.

“While we await these vaccines for the younger age group we also need to remind you that every time you vaccinate, you also help to protect those not eligible for vaccination – including our children.”

Dr Fong said a front-line worker was also among the dead, the second nurse to die this week.

“This is another frontliner colleague we knew and loved and our sympathies are extended to their families and to all families who have lost a loved one. She was not vaccinated. In line with government policy, she was on leave at the time she became infected,” he said.

“As previously announced we have set our personal protective equipment (PPE) distribution program to ensure that the large stocks we have are always readily available to all health care workers at the front-line, especially those who work in Critical Care Units and Emergency Departments”

“By ensuring that our healthcare workers are fully vaccinated, well trained in PPE use and are diligent in helping each other to maintain PPE discipline in the workplace, we will be able to maintain health worker numbers in all our health facilities.

“To date nobody has died in Fiji from Covid-19 after being fully vaccinated, we know that this is the very best protection we can provide for our colleagues.”

Dr Fong said the ministry had set its personal protective equipment (PPE) distribution program to ensure the large stocks it already had were available to all the front-line workers.

He said this was vital for those who work in the hospital Critical Care Units and Emergency Departments.

“By ensuring that our healthcare workers are fully vaccinated, well trained in PPE use and are diligent in helping each other to maintain PPE discipline in the workplace, we will be able to maintain health worker numbers in all our health facilities.

“Nobody has died in Fiji from Covid-19 after being fully vaccinated, and we know that this is the very best protection we can provide for our colleagues.

“Many have asked about workplace guidance to help deal with maintaining staff capacity and reducing the risk of transmission among workers as much as possible.”

Dr Fong said businesses are required to implement covid-safe operational plans approved by the Ministry of Commerce, Trade, Tourism and Transport.

He said these measures must be enforced to the letter.

“Employers, employees and customers must minimise contact as much as possible and avoid concentrated gatherings entirely.

“We need strong workplace measures to support and have oversight in ensuring regular handwashing, strict physical distancing, mask-wearing, avoidance of contact, crowds and contained spaces.

“Opting for small working groups in the workplace with protocols that support working from home. The use of ventilation interventions in the workplace.

“These include opening windows; inspecting and maintaining dedicated exhaust ventilation; disabling ventilation methods that recycle indoor air; repositioning outdoor air dampers; using of fans to increase effectiveness of open windows; repositioning supply/exhaust diffusers to create directional airflow.”

Dr Fong urged businesses to employ further interventions, such as adding portable HEPA fan/filter systems and Ultraviolet germicidal technology.

He said making workplaces safer needs to be an ongoing process of making changes and actively seeking out options based on the many guidelines that are out there.

“It should not be a mere checkbox exercise to align businesses to the ministry’s requirements.

“There are very strict penalties in place for businesses who violate the Covid-safe requirements that have allowed them to reopen.”

Dr Fong said 80 percent of the target population of about 600,000 have received one dose of the vaccine.

Fiji now has over 21,000 active cases in isolation. The death toll is at 233, 231 of these from the latest outbreak that began in April.

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