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Two doctors at the Lautoka Hospital in Fiji's western division are the latest cases of COVID-19 infection that were announced by the Ministry of Health and Medical Services Monday.
Ministry permanent secretary Dr James Fong said the first is a 25-year-old female doctor who presented at a screening clinic Monday with COVID-like symptoms.
He said she tested positive for the virus.
And the second is a 30-year-old male doctor who was tested as part of contact tracing for the first doctor.
“Both doctors have been entered into isolation and their close household contacts have been quarantined,” Dr Fong said.
“We are early into our investigation, but at this stage, they do not appear to have any links to existing cases or events of interest, such as the Tavakubu funeral.
“Also, while they did work in the hospital, they did not work in the isolation ward where they would have had interaction with COVID-positive patients. So while we are very early into this investigation, we must treat these cases as instances of community transmission until it is proven otherwise.”
Dr Fong said all contacts within the hospital would be screened, tested, and isolated as appropriate.
“As you can imagine, this is a massive and complex undertaking for the Lautoka hospital team, and we are providing the support they need. This includes sending in medical teams from other medical facilities to replace staff who have been identified as close contacts of these cases and stood down to be isolated.”
Dr Fong said as frontline healthcare workers, both doctors had received the first dose of the COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccine.
However, he said medically, neither doctors were considered “vaccinated” yet given that one needs two doses of this vaccine – given 10-12 weeks apart – to be considered fully vaccinated and to develop the protective immune response conferred by the vaccine.
“For either of them to be protected, they must be fully vaccinated. For Fiji to be protected, we must fully vaccinate our eligible population.”
“The war against the virus is far from won. We have to test many, many more Fijians in order to get a grip on the spread and stop it,” he said.
Dr Fong said there are currently six large containment areas throughout the country: Suva, Nausori, Lami, Rakiraki, Nadi and Lautoka.
He said borders of each are highly restricted and movement within the areas should be limited.
“We are not considering rolling back the measures for any of these zones until we have a clearer idea of the risk posed to the public. That will require more tests, more screening, and -- quite simply -- more time.
“The virus may be laying in wait within any of these containment areas, time is the only strategy that will expose those cases. If we give in to the urge to relax restrictions too early, we may lose our chance to contain the virus for good. That has happened elsewhere -- it cannot happen in Fiji,” Dr Fong said.
Meanwhile,the lockdown zone on Moturiki Island has been lifted after four consecutive tests on the three individuals who had attended the Tavakubu funeral in Lautoka returned negative.
Dr Fong confirmed the three individuals from Naicabecabe Village had attended the Tavakubu funeral and spent time with case 74, the staff from the quarantine facility.
He said they had completed the full 14-day quarantine since their exposure.
“However, as is the case with all of our rural and maritime communities, we encourage families on Moturiki to stay where they are, stay at home, and limit their movement as much as possible,” Dr Fong said
SOURCE: FIJI TIMES/PACNEWS
Pacific Islands News Association
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