Fiji says COVID-19 now widespread as cases spike

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Fiji health chiefs have admitted for the first time that COVID-19 transmission is widespread in the community after the Pacific nation recorded more than 300 new daily cases.

But authorities continue to reject calls for a nationwide lockdown, saying the 930,000-strong population’s failure to obey health rules designed to contain the virus would render it ineffective.

Permanent Secretary for Health James Fong announced late Thursday that Fiji had recorded 308 new daily virus cases, taking the total number in a second wave of infections that began in April to almost 2,800.

Fong acknowledged calls for a lockdown but said Fiji’s public compliance was low and authorities had no ability to enforce it, particularly in the densely populated shantytown settlements that were at most risk.

“The tragic reality is that Fijians living in communities most vulnerable to the virus—including those in informal settlements—are also those most vulnerable to the socioeconomic catastrophe that a 24-hour lockdown for 28 days would bring about,” he said.

“Even under such a strict lockdown, we believe the virus would continue to circulate within many of these communities.”

Fiji went a full year without recording any community cases up until April, when it was hit by a second wave of the quick-spreading Delta variant first identified in India.

As numbers continue to spike, doubling every nine days, the government’s head of health protection, Aalisha Sahukhan, said “all the evidence is that there is widespread community transmission”.

“With increasing cases, we expect increasing severe disease and deaths,” she said.

“While our hospitals right now are not overwhelmed with severe cases, from what we have seen in other countries with widespread community transmission during this pandemic, this is a very real possibility that we are preparing for.”

Fiji’s two largest hospitals have already been converted into dedicated COVID-19 facilities, with field hospitals set up to care for non-coronavirus patients.

The government’s strategy is to use localised lockdowns to limit the virus while vaccinating the general population.

Only about one percent of Fijians have been fully vaccinated, with the Red Cross blaming misinformation spread online for the slow rollout.

President Joiji Konrote has urged his compatriots to get their jabs.

“Please think of our beloved nation and our people, take the vaccination,” he said in an address posted online Friday.

“It is one of our main hopes of controlling the spread of the virus.”


Fiji’s virus spike ‘wake-up call’ for Pacific Islands: Red Cross


© 2021 AFP

Citation:
Fiji says COVID-19 now widespread as cases spike (2021, June 25)
retrieved 25 June 2021
from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-06-fiji-covid-widespread-cases-spike.html

This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no
part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.


Source link

DrAbout.Net

The leading source for trustworthy and timely health and medical news and information. Providing credible health information, supportive community, and educational services by blending award-winning expertise in content, community services, expert commentary, and medical review. Everything about health is here with the difference of Dr.About

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Back to top button