COVID-19: Vanua Levu control measures hinge on probe/tracing findings

Contact tracing continues in the North to determine the extent of the spread of the coronavirus emanating from a Nabouwalu wharf worker whose positive status was announced last night which will involve retracing his travel history and contacts since his exposure, which health authorities believe may have happened earlier in the week.

In his statement, Permanent Secretary Health Dr James Fong said that additional measures to prevent further spread in the North will be made when more information comes to hand, but in the meantime, the wharf worker and his contacts including household members and work colleagues have been quarantined, some of whom have tested negative while others await their result.

“Investigations into how this person got infected are still in the very early stages. However, it appears the exposure to the virus happened on board a ship unloading cargo from Suva earlier this week. This person tested positive during routine swabbing of wharf workers yesterday (Friday, 14 August),” Dr Fong said.

The positive person has been securely moved to the Malau isolation facility and household members have been quarantined. So far, the person’s household members have tested negative for the virus. With the help of the careFIJI app the Ministry’s COVID-19 response team in the Northern Division have identified other primary contacts, including workplace contacts, and they have been quarantined, with test results pending. The team are continuing to trace other people that the person may have come into contact with during the infectious period.”

This is the first case in the North in a little over a month. The last time new cases reportedly emerged in the North was on 2 July – two cases initially under a contained environment in the Malau isolation facility, growing to five, according to subsequent health updates. Twenty-five days later, on 27 July the ministry confirmed the recovery of all five positive patients.

Reassuring northerners, Dr Fong says their team is working closely with other local agencies and communities to prevent any further spread of the virus.

The case in Nabouwalu was one of 314 new infections announced last night, of which 259 were recorded in the West and 54 in the central division.

Eight new COVID-19 deaths were also announced on the night. The deaths occurring within four days were reported in the central division, all of the victims, men, aged between 40 and 85. Five of the eight victims were unvaccinated and three, partially vaccinated.

Deaths

  • 64-year-old man, Suva.
    • He was not vaccinated
    • Presented to the CWMH hospital in severe respiratory distress, dying on 13 August five days after admission.
  • 85-year-old man, Naitasiri
    • He was not vaccinated.
    • Died at home on 14 August.
  • 63-year-old man, Naitasiri
    • Partially vaccinated having received the first dose in early July.
    • Died at home on 13 August.
    • His family reported that he had a cough and fever for two weeks prior to his presentation.
  • 76 year old man, Naitasiri.
    • Unvaccinated
    • Declared dead on arrival at the Naqali Health Centre on 12 August.
  • 56-year-old man, Lami
    • Partially vaccinated having received the first dose in mid-July
    • Died at home on 13 August.
  • 77-year-old man, Nausori
    • Unvaccinated
    • Died at home on 11 August
    • His family reported that he had generalized body weakness and cough for one week prior.
  • 66-year-old man, Caubati
    • Unvaccinated
    • He presented to the CWMH hospital in severe respiratory distress. He died on 14 August, eight days after admission.
  • 40-year-old man, Nakasi.
    • Partially vaccinated having received the first dose of the vaccine in early June.
    • He presented to the CWMH hospital in severe respiratory distress.
    • He died on 13 August, 16 days after admission.

With the newly reported deaths, there have now been 368 deaths due to COVID-19 in Fiji, with 366 of these deaths during the outbreak that started in April this year. The national 7-day rolling average of COVID-19 deaths per day is nine.

There have been two more deaths of COVID-19 positive patients. However, these deaths have been classified as non-COVID deaths by their doctors. The two deaths bring to 194 COVID-19 positive patients who have died but whose deaths have been attributed to pre-existing conditions.

Photo: Malau Isolation Facility. Courtesy of: Lusi Banuve-Leqa

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