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Fiji records 2 cases of Omicron variant

 

Dec 06, 2021 10:57:50 PM

Fiji records 2 cases of Omicron variant Two Fijian citizens who flew in from Nigeria via a Fiji Airways flight from Hong Kong on November 25 and had tested positive for COVID-19 while in quarantine are now confirmed to be infected with the new Omicron variant.

Permanent Secretary for Health Dr James Fong said the samples of the passengers that arrived from an African state and had tested positive during quarantine were sent to the reference laboratory in Australia for urgent genomic sequencing.

He said both travelers tested negative for COVID-19 before departure from Fiji and before they left Nigeria and they entered a Government-designated border quarantine facility immediately upon arrival into Fiji, tested positive while in quarantine, currently have no symptoms, and were fully vaccinated.

"With the exception of four passengers, all those on the flight were from non-travel partner countries, and therefore entered a border quarantine facility upon arrival to undergo the full quarantine protocol of 10 days."

"That has since been extended to 14 days. The four passengers on the flight who were from a travel partner country have tested negative."

"The Fiji Airways crew and accompanying passengers from FJ 1392 have tested negative at least twice."

Dr Fong said the indications are that they have averted community transmission at this time, and the measures that have been put in place to prevent, or at least delay, community transmission through the importation of cases from red zone countries have worked well so far.

"Our red zone designated countries are countries that we consider at high risk of proliferating variants. These are countries with low vaccination rates, poor testing data, and an ongoing outbreak."

"As we previously highlighted, the protocols in place for the red zone countries were to isolate for 5 days and test negative twice before we approve their re-entry. In Fiji, they undergo 14 days of strict quarantine and testing in a government-designated border quarantine facility."

The evidence on Omicron variant’s impact on the transmissibility of the virus, severity of disease, and effect of prior immunity (from vaccination or infection) is still in the very early stages so conclusions cannot be made yet.

However, the preliminary evidence is that this variant may be more transmissible than the Delta variant; it may cause reinfection in people who have been previously infected with another variant; and it has been seen to infect people who are fully vaccinated – although, so far, the fully vaccinated cases have been generally mild or with no symptoms.

Dr Fong  re-emphasized that, if a variant is transmissible enough, stringent border and community measures will only delay the inevitable entry and spread of current and future variants of the COVID-19 virus, especially as the Omicron variant is also spreading into some of our travel partner countries.

"To protect ourselves, our loved ones, and our country, we must all get vaccinated when it is our turn."

"And even with our high vaccination levels, we must maintain COVID safe habits: mask wisely by carrying a well-fitted mask when you leave your home and wear the mask properly in public indoor spaces, public service vehicles, and outdoor crowded spaces; open windows to improve ventilation; avoid poorly ventilated or crowded spaces; 2-meter physical distancing and ensure you are wearing a mask if you cannot maintain distance; cough or sneeze into a bent elbow or tissue, wash your hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer."

Dr Fong added that finding the Omicron variant in travelers in border quarantine is not unexpected, given how quickly it has spread worldwide, but it is a sharp reminder to ourselves that the key to avoiding future restrictions and lockdowns is for us all to remain cautious about how we engage in the greater freedom we will enjoy.

"Whilst the easing of restrictions is needed to facilitate livelihoods, we must ensure that together with vaccination, we continue to observe our COVID safe measures and avoid contained spaces and crowds."

By Reginald Chandar





 

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Covid-19 Update

 

Last updated 26th January 2022

New Cases


122

Active Cases


1,980

Recoveries


58,656

Deaths


791

 


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