CDC closure will not affect tracing and swabbing plans during lockdown: Health

Fiji’s Center for Disease Control (CDC) will remain closed for another 24 hours to allow for decontamination, but that will not affect tracing, and swabbing plans over the 101-hour lockdown period, effective from 11pm last night, in the Suva-Nausori containment zone, Permanent Secretary for Health Dr James Fong says.

Testing at the CDC had to be halted after three of its administration staff tested positive for coronavirus, prompting the decontamination.

The closure of the CDC, Dr Fong admits, will result in decreased volumes of testing since the majority of COVID19 tests are done at the facility, but they will make do with the other centres. Testing is also done at the Tamavua Twomey Hospital, CWM Hospital, Labasa Hospital and Lautoka Hospital, one of which returned a positive diagnosis in today’s lone COVID19 case stemming from the Lakena cluster.

Dr Fong also says that it is early days to determine whether the lockdown measures will be lifted as scheduled at 4am Wednesday 19 May, adding that this will be dictated by their findings over the 4-day lockdown.

“It remains vital that we use the next four days to identify and swab the contacts of existing cases in Suva and Nausori. And until we have a clearer idea of the extent of transmission in the Suva-Nausori area, this lockdown serves the dual purpose of putting a firm halt on further spread. There may be community cases we do not know about. Keeping these potentially positive people at home is the safest course of action,” Dr Fong said.

“The results of that exercise will inform our next steps. At this stage, we have not made a recommendation either way on the lockdown measures expanding to other areas or lengthening in duration.”

Meanwhile, the lone case announced today is a household member of the Lakena cases reported earlier, and he was already in isolation at Navua Hospital when he registered a positive result.

“Given his first test upon entering quarantine was negative, we do not view him as a high-risk case for wider transmission.”

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