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Fiji is the only country in the region that has the B1617 variant, which was first detected in India.
This, according to Pacific Community acting director public health Taniela Sunia Soakai.
He said the onus was on every country to ensure their people were safe.
“Generally, the Pacific needs to be well protected at this stage,” he said.
“I think we should be very assured of that but we can’t let our guard down and that depends on the readiness of the countries.”
Soakai said the Pacific Community and other partners had been supporting countries with their preparedness and response planning.
He said no Pacific Island country could do genome sequencing and this was sent overseas.
Meanwhile, the COVID health measures undertaken by the Fijian Government are the “right ones”, says Dr Akeem Ali, acting WHO representative to the South Pacific.
He made the comment as he urged Fijians to “stay home and don’t move”, adding the B1617 variant found in Fiji’s recent cases was not inevitable.
He said the most important response was for Fiji to have an effective public health control measure.
“It is not inevitable, viruses mutate and they change variants over time, and that is if the viruses evolve,” he said.
“What is important is that if we have an effective public health control measure, which I think we have.
“We as a community have a very significant role to play by following instructions and directives given to us.
“Stay home, stay safe and don’t move. All the measures the Government has put in place are all the right ones because as you can see we are finding the cases and we are finding the links between cases which is critical. When you know the chain of transmission then you can contain that chain and make sure it doesn’t go beyond that immediate chain, which is why it’s important and that people stay where they are and really follow instructions.”
He said irrespective of the variant circulating, it is known that vaccines help reduce severity of illness, and reduce the chances of dying and hospitalisation.
“There are various studies going on to know how particular vaccines would evolve in their response to the various variants. The manufacturers are working very hard with scientists to look at how vaccines would also evolve with the variants as they are evolving, but now the advice is the vaccine is available, please take it because it would reduce your chances of getting severe illness,” he added.
SOURCE: FIJI TIMES/PACNEWS
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