COVID-19 Fiji: Prepare for the worst, deployed personnel told

Case numbers have dropped in recent weeks, but Fijian authorities warn that it does not reflect the gravity of the situation on the ground in particular cases occurring in various far-flung locations outside Viti Levu that a group of deployed personnel have been told to prepare for the worst-case scenario.

Permanent Secretary for Health Dr James Fong said it is not so much the numbers they are concerned about but the limited health infrastructure in these areas.

Total cases decreased for the third consecutive week – 1,363 lower for the week ending yesterday (21/08-27/08) compared to the previous week (14/08-20/08). Of the 2277 recent cases, 188 are in the islands – 164 in Kadavu (within 11 days across at least three villages), 23 in Malolo Island (within 3 days across at least two communities on the island) and a fatal case at Somosomo Village on Naviti Island in the Yasawas.

Teams have been sent to some of these islands to gauge the extent of the transmission but health officials have in previous days warned of numbers escalating in these areas so too the risk of severe diseases and deaths.

Minister for Rural and Maritime Development and Disaster Management Inia Seruiratu echoed the narrative in his remarks to a 56-member team that left for Kadavu yesterday when he said: “let’s all be prepared for worst-case scenarios” also reminding them to show empathy when treating patients on the island.

The team to Kadavu is headed by Chief Surgeon Dr Josese Turagava and they will be on the island for a month.

“We need to feel for the people during these very difficult times. I hope that you’ll be there to relieve them from the predicament that they are in. Our approach will be very, very critical,” Seruiratu said while seeing off the team headed by Dr Josese Turagava who will be on the island for a month. “In a crisis, some of them may be in a state of shock or traumatised, so the approach we take will be very critical. We need to be professional.”

In response to the situation in Malolo Island, Dr Fong said they have deployed a public health team to map out a plan to contain the virus and also identify community members who are most at risk of severe disease.

A similar plan is in place for Naviti where the ministry expects the impact to be more severe.

“Over the weekend we will be deploying a team to Naviti to develop a plan to increase our capacity to provide critical care to patients, as well as put in place protective measures for those most vulnerable,” Dr Fong said.

Cases in Yasawa and Mamanuca will also require re-strategising by the ministry in the allocation of its West-based resources on the back of an increase in community transmission as well as deaths recorded between Sigatoka and Rakiraki.

Source: Ministry of Health

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