Community Omicron transmission likely: Health

Fiji’s Ministry of Health says features of Omicron including its high transmissibility rate, infecting even fully vaccinated individuals and re-infecting those people that have been infected by COVID-19 as well as its existence in a number of Fiji’s travel partner countries means it is very likely to enter the local community.

As such, Health permanent secretary Dr James Fong said it is crucial that people observe COVID safe measures at all times and getting vaccinated once they are eligible including acquiring booster doses.

“In response to the likely introduction of Omicron into our communities, we have new stocks of booster doses for the elderly, vulnerable, and front liners; and the vaccination of children will continue,” Dr Fong said.

“We continue to promote COVID safe behavior in our messages and use legal measures we have in our hands for enforcement. We continue to work with businesses and schools to foster COVID safe measures to become an automatic habit.

“We want to facilitate the reopening of society in a way that does not cause mass illness and death. We cannot eradicate SARS-CoV-2 but we can plan to ensure that what comes into Fiji is well known and we have enough vaccination cover and COVID safe habits in the community to protect ourselves and the freedoms we enjoy.”

Authorities have also revised one of its entry requirement for visitors from at least two travel partner countries who now have widespread community transmission of Omicron.

“This will entail reducing the time for when the test can be taken from at most 72 hours before departure to 24 hours. This has already been put in place for travelers from the United States of America and the United Kingdom. We are currently working on how this can also be done for travelers from other travel partner countries.”

Since the opening of international travel borders to travel partner countries, six travelers have tested positive for COVID-19 during the mandatory 3-day hotel stay and testing. They had tested negative in the 72 hours before departure and are fully vaccinated.

Dr Fong says the six people are either asymptomatic or have mild symptoms and have been isolated within hotels with protocols that have been established in the lead-up to border opening, and continue to be overseen by the ministry in the western division. Samples of the six have been sent to Australia for genomic sequencing.

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