Patient 18 had completed quarantine, MOH to increase COVID19 tests

A 51-year-old woman from Ba, despite having undergone mandatory 14-day self-quarantine, has tested positive for COVID19, becoming Fiji’s 18th case and the country’s potential fifth cluster source.

The woman had returned to Fiji from the United States of America on March 22, reportedly self-isolated in her home for 14 days, which would have ended Sunday April 5.

Patient 18 forms the fifth cluster of Fiji cases. The country has four other clusters – cluster one stemming from case one of Lautoka; cluster 2 stemming from patient four from Nadera; cluster three with patient nine from Labasa and cluster four from patient 10 in Nadi.

The Ba patient, the first from the area developed symptoms more than 21 days after she arrived in Fiji and tested positive on the 27th day on April 18. 

Her three close contacts being her husband, her sister-in-law and brother-in-law who despite testing negative have all been admitted to the isolation facility at the Lautoka Hospital.

Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama announced the latest case April 20 and revealed three earlier patients, cases 1, 5 and 10 had tested negative for COVID19 over the weekend. The three have been discharged from hospital – cases 1 and 5 from Lautoka Hospital and case 10 from Nadi Hospital.

MaiTV understands another two earlier patients have today tested negative for COVID19 and MOH is conducting the second round of tests before they are discharged. Patients who test negative twice in 24 hours are sent to another 14 days of monitored quarantine at home.

Case 18 was one of 123 samples sent for testing at the Fiji Centre for Disease Control (CDC) on the weekend.

“One test returned what we call a “soft positive” result –– meaning we couldn’t say with certainty whether this sample was positive for COVID-19,” PM Bainimarama said.

“After further testing and consultations with our reference lab in Melbourne, they found that these results indicate this sample came from someone in the final stages of recovery from coronavirus.” 

“This, combined with a travel history from the United States last month, was enough for us to call this case “highly likely” –– and in my book, when Fijian lives are at stake, that means “positive”.”

Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama

Patient 17, a 21 year old male from Dreketi on the Macuata-Bua border had a similar case definition as Patient 18 in that he had completed self quarantine for 14 days before he displayed COVID19 symptoms.

“This  latest case goes to show: This virus is still out there in our communities. Our 18th case has been present in Fiji for almost a month –– while her transmission risk is low, she was certainly not the only unconfirmed coronavirus case in the country. This is a complex and contagious virus, and –– no matter the strength of our safety nets –– cases can slip through the cracks, as we’ve in other countries, especially individuals who never show symptoms.”

Screening Vs Testing

Meanwhile the Fijian Ministry of Health and Medical Services has completed fever screening for 305,783 people following a vigorous programme which began April 2. In contrast, it has completed more than 750 tests at the Fiji CDC. Fiji is the only Pacific island country with its own molecular testing facility which opened March 11. 

Health Minister, Dr. Ifereimi Waqainabete said the government had increased COVID19 testing.

“We are doing more testing. Even just on the weekend, we did more than 100 tests. We are also testing those in the community who have a history of travel or who has had contact with somebody who has had a history of travel.”

Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete

“Irrespective of the cases that we have, who may have symptoms, we test them.”

Meanwhile the government is working with the World Health Organisation and the Australian and New Zealand Government to acquire testing kits for the Fiji CDC. 

“So we buy some and some of them are supplied. All in all, we make sure that these are verified testing kits.”

“Similar to the vaccination programs we have in place, we buy through UNICEF and it comes from Copenhagen in Denmark.”

“There are many other companies around the world that provide immunization for things like measles for example but we buy from sources that are verified, and that is from UNICEF and they bring it from Europe.”

“And that is how we do it, to make sure we are protecting Fijians.”

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