Health ministry reassures public of COVID-19 measures in schools

Fiji’s Ministry of Health has cleared of COVID-19 a Lautoka student who experienced coronavirus-like symptoms during the first week of Year 12 and Year 13 students resuming in-person classes last week.

In a statement, the ministry says tests carried out on the student returned negative, but it will not always be the case as some tests will return positive results, reminding parents and guardians that such scenario is to be expected as schools reopen and with COVID-19 becoming endemic.

However the effect of transmissions in schools can be mitigated if proper COVID-19 safe measures are observed at all times, plus eligible members of the family acquire both doses of a coronavirus vaccine.

Permanent Secretary for Health Dr Fong reminds students, parents, guardians and the public must all take responsibility for the safety of their loved ones and communities.

“The incident in Lautoka provided an opportunity to effectively follow the Safe School Reopening Guidelines and test our response. The school did well in abiding by the guidelines,” Dr Fong said. “We thank the school staff for their prompt activation of the Safe School Reopening Guidelines that involved strict monitoring, early detection and referral of the symptomatic student.”

The ministry said when the student fell ill while attending class, school protocols were immediately activated. The student was isolated including isolating the student to the designated sickbay, with quick action taken to ensure the student was comfortable and provided with the necessary medical attention. Furthermore, contact tracing and containment protocols were initiated.

Dr Fong reiterates that the practice of COVID-19 safe measures; the proper wearing of masks, washing hands with soap and water or the use of a hand sanitiser, ensuring we cover our coughs and sneezes are all essential to minimising the risk of transmission in the school environment.

“Vaccination and receiving two doses protect us and importantly, ensure all vaccine eligible members in our families are fully vaccinated to protect our loved ones and our communities from severe COVID-19,” Dr Fong said.

Divisional Medical Officer (DMO) West, Dr Susana Nakalevu said, “Ensuring the safety and protection of students and all school staff from COVID-19 is a priority as schools reopen and classes resume.”

She assures students, parents and the public that COVID-19 safe measures contained in the Safe School Reopening Guidelines have been instituted in all schools right across the country and all schools and teachers are equipped and ready to respond to any COVID-19 incident occurring within the confines of the school.

Permanent Secretary for Education, Heritage and Arts, Dr Anjeela Jokhan added that schools will continue to be vigilant in following COVID safe practices.

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