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B1617 called a ‘double mutant’ by experts, 120,000 Fijians urgently need screening
06:59 am GMT+12, 28/04/2021, Fiji

The B1617 variant of COVID-19 that Fiji is facing has been described as one which has worrying mutations and could create major chaos.
 
Medical officials are now trying to get people to understand and take precautionary measures, saying if this is not contained within a fortnight, Fijians are in for a severe outcome.
 
Health Permanent Secretary, Doctor James Fong said if Fijians don’t win this fight over the next two weeks and this outbreak gets out of control, the prospects for jobs, micro, small and medium enterprises, entire industries, and the economy as a whole could fall into much more dire straits.
 
Overseas media have reported this variant has affected countries such as India, Brazil, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States and has been tagged as a double mutant.
 
Epidemiologists said this variant has the characteristics of two already identified variants of E484Q and L452R mutations.
 
Doctor Fong said the time to act is now.
 
“I am hoping and praying that there are more Fijians that will protect their elderly family members, those who got comorbidities, telling them don’t go anywhere. But at the same time they have to be careful if they go somewhere, when they come back home, they won’t bring it to them, because if I can keep the vulnerable protected then we might not have to use too much of that medical reserve that we talking about.”
 
Doctor Fong also said the current vaccine Fiji are using, AstraZeneca, is said to have less impact on this variant, but vaccinations need to continue.
 
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health is yet to screen 120,000 people in Lautoka, Nadi and in the Central Division.
 
The areas in the Central Division include Cunningham, Wainivula, Caubati, Tacirua and Makoi.
 
Dr Fong said they continue to trace, isolate, and test those who have been in contact with Fijians recently tested with COVID-19.
 
He said this push depends heavily on self-identification.
 
Dr Fong said more than 93,000 Fijians from this area have already been screened.
 
“They have been checked for COVID-like symptoms and travel histories that may place them in the path of Fijian living with COVID-19.”
 
He stressed that Fijians from these areas must stay home as much as possible so that the Ministry staff can do their job well

SOURCE: FBC NEWS/PACNEWS

 


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