COVID-safe adherence critical to avoid further restrictions/lockdown: Health

Fiji has not recorded any deaths from COVID-19 in a little over two weeks, but there have been six deaths with COVID-19 and 84 new coronavirus cases over the same period, underlining the need to adhere to COVID-19 protocols at all times, particularly with the Omicron variant, said to be more transmissible than the Delta variant, in the equation.

According to data kept with the Ministry of Health, the latest death attributed to COVID-19 in the country was announced on 1 December, for an unvaccinated person who had died in August. The only deaths reported since after 1 December was of six COVID-19 positive patients who died because of pre-existing illness or other causes. The number of new COVID-19 cases recorded over the same period, have fluctuated between two and 12, averaging nearly six cases a day.

In their latest advisory the Ministry of Health pointed out that Fiji is still not out of the woods yet particularly with the Omicron variant, urging the public about the importance of adhering to COVID-19 protocols and getting vaccinated once becoming eligible saying these are the “only way to safely navigate our way through the pandemic while facilitating socioeconomic recovery and well-being.”

Permanent Secretary Health Dr James Fong says the latest advisory by the World Health Organisation echoes sentiments that have been promoted by the ministry that all measures including vaccination must go hand in hand and consistently –

“It’s not vaccines instead of masks. It’s not vaccines instead of distancing. It’s not vaccines instead of ventilation or hand hygiene. Do it all. Do it consistently. Do it well.”

WHO/MOH Fiji

In their advisory the WHO also expressed concerns that people were readily dismissing Omicron as mild, adding that even if the variant does cause less severe diseases, the fact that it is spreading rapidly than previous variants including Delta means increased case numbers “could overwhelm unprepared health systems.”

Fiji is among 77 countries to have reported cases of Omicron, and WHO believes it is probably in most other countries but have not been detected yet.

Dr Fong said for Fijians the best protection and the only means to avoid future restrictions and lockdowns is “for us all to remain cautious about how we engage in the greater freedom we will enjoy. Whilst the easing of restrictions is needed to facilitate livelihoods, we must ensure that together with vaccination, we continue to observe our COVID safe measures and avoid contained spaces and crowds.”

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