Fijian health officials have expressed concerns over the situation in Kadavu, and have not ruled out more severe diseases and deaths on the island where no one is fully vaccinated, based on vaccination data, making it particularly vulnerable.
Within days of recording its index case, involving a 63-year-old woman of Rakiraki village in Yale who health officials say was unvaccinated and whose demise has been classified a COVID-19 death, 46 more cases have emerged including one in a neighbouring village.
The Ministry of the Health’s vaccination database shows that only 24.3% of Kadavu’s eligible population has received the first dose, the second-lowest behind Lakeba on 21.6%. Lakeba however has had some of its eligible residents taken the second dose equating at 0.1%.
The extent of the infection and/or its severity will be apparent in seven days or 10 days time.
In the meantime, Permanent Secretary for Health Dr James Fong said screening and isolation protocols continue on the island and a clinical response plan is being compiled to assist the ministry in its response.
“The clinical scoping team in Kadavu have begun to put together a clinical response plan that will help to efficiently escalate our response to the expected wave of severe disease and deaths in Kadavu however we do anticipate this to be a challenging exercise,” Dr Fong said.
A key part of the response, he says, will be to identify persons vulnerable to severe COVID and to pre-emptively engage them in a care plan that allows early identification of symptoms and signs and access to clinical care in a timely manner.
“Another important part of the response to mitigate severe disease will be community-wide engagement to establish specific plans that help maintain oversight over vulnerable persons, and facilitate their timely transfer to a health care facility when required.”
The situation, unfolding in Kadavu, has renewed calls to village leaders in other maritime islands to safeguard their communities by discouraging travels to and from Viti Levu and report any suspicious movements in their communities.
Rotuma is another island where only the first dose of the vaccine has been administered.
Meanwhile, confirmation of the deceased’s death increases Fiji’s COVID-19 tally to 433 since March 2020, 431 of these during the outbreak that began in April this year.
An additional 249 positive patients have also died, but their deaths have been attributed to serious medical conditions that they had before they contracted COVID-19 thus “are not classified as COVID-19 deaths.”
With 198 new coronavirus infections reported overnight and 516 new recoveries, Fiji now has 20,271 active cases. Of the active cases, 11,684 are in the central division, 8,540 in the western division, one in the northern division (Nabouwalu) and 46 in the eastern division (Kadavu).
Of the 198 new cases, 52 are from the western division and 146 cases are from the central division.
There have been 43,224 cases during the outbreak that started in April 2021, and a total of 43,294 cases since the first case was reported in March 2020. There have also been 22,341 recoveries since.