Fiji steps up restrictions after first community case, a possible new cluster

Fijian authorities have stepped up restrictions within the Lami-Suva-Nausori corridor and the Nadi-Lautoka containment area after they found no link between one of the four new cases announced today and the country’s current cluster of local cases.

Unlike the earlier locally transmitted cases, the case reported in Makoi, involving a 29-year-old woman, cannot be traced back to the current cluster, linked to the military officer or the hotel staff otherwise known as Fiji’s cases 73 and 74 respectively.

At this point, authorities are treating the case as a possible community transmission case (a case with no known link to other cases or international travel), and as such forced to take strict precautionary measures against the possibility that the virus has spread within the Lami-Suva-Nausori and within the Nadi-Lautoka areas

“Regarding the Makoi case, we are not certain of the source of her infection, but the Ministry of Health is busy doing contact tracing to determine who she may have been in contact with before or after she was infected,” Permanent Secretary Ministry of Health and Medical Services Dr James Fong said.

“Beginning at 4 am [today], and for the next 14 days, the greater public will not be allowed in or out of the following containment zones. — -Lami- Suva Nausori areas. For a period of 14 days, we will be closing off exits at the following checkpoints, starting from 4am tomorrow morning, the 26th of April: beginning from Wainadoi to Tamavua- I- Wai–Tamavua-I- Wai to 8 Miles bridge, — 8 Miles bridge to Logani Village on Kings Road. Similarly, the Nadi-Lautoka will be divided into two zones—Nadi Zone will begin from Momi Junction to Lomolomo Police Post and from Lomolomo Police Post to Nacilau. The current free movement between Lautoka to Nadi will no longer be allowed for the next 14 days beginning tomorrow.”

The new containment zones are but some of the additional measures introduced to contain the spread of the virus. Authorities did not give a timeframe as to when restrictions will ease, only saying that when they receive further information on the Makoi case, “there will be appropriate variations to these measures.””

Below are some of the additional measures announced by Dr Fong today:

  • Only persons travelling for medical purposes will be allowed through checkpoints.  
  • All non-essential businesses must remain closed.
  • Supermarkets and shops selling food and other essential items will remain open within their respective containment zones.
  • Similar to other essential services, markets will remain open only in and for the respective containment zones.
  • Pharmacies will also remain open.  
  • Restaurants can remain open but only for takeaway and delivery orders within and for the containment zones.
  • Limited banking services will be available, as will FNPF and FRCS.
  • Public transportation within the different zones will be available but limited to 50% seating capacity. We have made arrangements through LTA for this to be practically implemented.
  • Civil service employees will be authorised to work from home at the discretion of their respective Permanent Secretaries
  • ports of Lautoka and Suva will remain open for international freight shipping and inter-island cargo shipping.  Any inter-island passenger travel from the ports of Suva, Denarau, Vuda and Lautoka remain prohibited. We will implement the previous Agriculture Marketing Authority arrangements to get food and produce
  • For employees, if there is no branch of your company which you can report to in your containment zones, please contact your employer. For those who cannot attend work at all because of the set-up of the containment zones, they will be able to access 220 dollars a fortnight from their FNPF. If funds are insufficient, the government will top up the accounts.
  • Even within the respective containment zones, residents are again advised to avoid large social gatherings, particularly indoors.
  • Stay home. Your interactions should be limited entirely to those already living in your households. If you’re missing a friend or loved one, do the safe thing and call them on the phone.

Essential businesses include air and rescue services, air traffic control services, ports services, civil aviation, telecommunication services, food and sanitary manufacturing plants, electricity services, emergency services, fire services, health and hospital services, lighthouse services, meteorological services, mine pumping, ventilation and winding, sanitary services, supply and distribution of fuel and gas, power, telecommunications, garbage collection, transport services, water and sewage services, FNPF and FRCS, civil service, private security services and roading services.

Meanwhile, the other three cases of COVID19 announced involves a 30-year-old woman and a married couple aged 52 and 51 years. All three have been traced back to the funeral super spreader or Fiji’s case 74.

“The 30-year-old female [is a] known close contact of case 74 (hotel quarantine worker case) who has been in quarantine since Monday 19 April. She tested negative on her first test upon entering quarantine and has now tested positive after four days in quarantine.

“The next two cases are a couple, a 52-year-old male and 51-year-old female, who attended the funeral at Tavakubu together on 16-17 April and had contact with case 74. They were transferred into a government supervised quarantine facility on Thursday 22 April after developing symptoms. Their movement between the funeral and when they were transferred into the quarantine facility is currently the subject of contact tracing investigations.”

With this latest case, Fiji now has 24 active cases in isolation. Five are older border quarantine cases announced before Sunday, 18 April 18. Nine are recently announced border quarantine cases, and 10 are locally transmitted cases.

Total active cases in isolation = 24 (14 border quarantine cases and 10 locally transmitted cases)
Ministry of Health

Fiji has had 91 cases in total, with 65 recoveries and two deaths, since our first case was reported on 19 March 2020. 63 of these cases have been international travel-associated cases detected in border quarantine.

A total of 47,430 COVID-19 laboratory tests have been conducted, with a daily average of 653 tests per day over the last seven days. Daily testing has increased in line with the response to the recent local cases, with 1007 tests conducted yesterday. Our overall test positivity is 0.2% and our 7-day average daily test positivity is 0.5%.

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