Health restrictions may expand or become more stringent depending on findings: Dr Fong

Stay home, it is where you are safest, Fiji’s Permanent Secretary of Health Dr James Fong pleads as contact tracing works into the travel cases of recent positive individuals indicate widespread transmission in the community with case numbers expected to soar.

“We believe we may be in the early part of a very fast-rising upward curve in case numbers,” Dr Fong said as Fiji’s positive numbers increased to 116 after five more people were diagnosed with coronavirus on Thursday.

The extent of the transmission emanating from a 25-year-old man who authorities had retrieved from Vunimono early this week, Dr Fong says is worrying, after two of his contacts including his 25-year-old wife, and 52-year-old aunt also tested positive. The man is said to have been asymptomatic when he tested positive, and before that, reportedly engaged in “higher-risk” activities including drinking grog and sharing cigarettes with friends and family.

Last night, the Ministry of Health deployed teams to carry out door-to-door swabbing of contacts of the 52-year-old woman who is believed to have been infectious before the garment factory where she worked was shut down Monday. Out of caution, authorities are also swabbing workers from an adjacent garment factory. 

The other three cases include a man who was recently discharged from Tanoa Hotel, a 23-year-old male who had travelled from Guyana on 22 April before international flights were halted and a 68-year-old male of Rakiraki whose source of infection is still to be established, like the first that was reported in the province of Ra on Wednesday.

Depending on the outcome of their swabbing and contact tracing works, Dr Fong says “same principles as always apply – health restrictions may expand or become more stringent lockdown measures”.

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