It’s going to get worse…please help us: Dr Sahukhan

COVID19 testing at the Fiji Center for Disease Control (CDC) has been temporarily stopped while the site undergoes decontamination after three of the four people whose positive status was announced today work at the facility, prompting pleas from Dr Aalisha SahuKhan that everyone adheres to existing protocols for the sake of all healthcare workers.

Dr SahuKhan who heads Fiji’s Head of Health Protection warns that indicators are that the country’s COVID19 situation will get worse.

“The news today hasn’t been good, and it hasn’t been good for quite a while. We’ve had one more death and we’ve had more cases appearing in the community without links to other cases. All indications are at this time that things will get worse, likely a lot worse before they start to get better,” she said.

“To everyone watching tonight, for all healthcare workers including the Fiji CDC team, please listen, please wash your hands with soap and water, please stay home, please wear a mask if you do leave the house and download the careFIJI app if you have a smartphone. We may not do everything perfectly all the time, but believe me, we are all doing our very best to keep you safe. Please help us.”

Dr Sahukhan

Based on preliminary investigations, Fiji’s Ministry of Health believes the virus was brought into the facility by one of its administration staff who resides in Makoi and had only returned to work from his annual leave. The employee tested positive first and the other two were picked up as part of his contacts. All three have been transferred to isolation facilities. So far, all other Fiji CDC staff have tested negative including all the laboratory and medical staff.

Due to existing protocols implemented by the Fiji CDC, Permanent Secretary for Health Dr James Fong said there was limited interaction between the laboratory staff and the administration staff.

“The staff of the Fiji CDC have been sequestered on site or placed in quarantine facilities. COVID19 testing will resume once the decontamination process is complete by laboratory staff who are sequestered on site at the Fiji CDC. The staff on site will be tested and re tested over the quarantine period, similar to the Lautoka Hospital process.

The fourth case is from Makoi, and presented to the Oceania Hospital in Suva with symptoms. Currently this case has no known links to other clusters in Makoi. Oceania hospital outpatient’s department was temporarily closed for contact tracing and decontamination yesterday, whilst those who possibly had contact with the patient at the hospital has been entered into isolation.

With the latest cases and recent death, there are now 52 active cases in isolation facilities, of which six are border quarantine cases, 33 local transmissions, and 13 are under investigation to determine the source of transmission. Cases under investigation are considered as community transmission until proven otherwise.

Fiji has had 165 cases in total, with 109 recoveries and 4 deaths, since the first case was reported on 19 March 2020.

Due to the recent cases at Fiji CDC the most recent testing data is not available. However, as of yesterday, a total of 70,732 COVID-19 laboratory tests had been conducted, with a daily average of 1772 tests per day over the last 7 days, and 1910 tests conducted as announced yesterday. The weekly average is 8529 tests per week over the last 2 weeks, with a record 10,237 tests done last week. The overall test positivity is 0.2% and 7 day average daily test positivity is 0.3%. An average of 2.2 tests per 1000 population was conducted daily over the last 7 days, and 9.6 per 1000 population per week averaged over the last 2 weeks.

Photo: Fijian Government

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