Permanent Secretary of Health and Medical Services, Dr James Fong has clarified that the XXB.1.5 variant is not in the country, and it is not significantly more severe than the previous COVID-19 variants.
Dr Fong highlighted this in a statement and reiterated that he needed to correct the report alluded to by the Chief Medical Advisor Dr Jemesa Tudravu who had discussed specifically the XXB variant, but not XXB 1.5.
Dr Fong said however, given the characteristics of XXB 1.5 and our current travel conditions, its presence in Fiji is possible, and they have just not yet picked it up.
“They are running up to 47 selected samples next week from around the country in the whole genomic sequencing unit of their Fiji CDC lab in Tamavua.”
“The XXB variant had been picked in specimens from traveller and one of our community cases.”
Dr Fong said the announcement that it is part of our current surge of febrile illness adding that in the same manner, BA.1, BA. 2, BA. 4.6, BA.5, BA 5.6, BQ. 1 and BQ1.1 have also been confirmed as part of the current surge of febrile illness.
“The Ministry of Health’s understanding at present is that based on current data, all the circulating variants are more transmissible however protection against severe disease and hospitalization is being maintained.
“Such, the medical caseloads remain manageable and the current waves of COVID cases are not causing undue stress to the health system.”
Dr Fong said they are also aware that XXB.1.5 isn’t significantly more severe than previous Covid-19 variants.