Pacific Covid-19: Nine new cases reported in Fiji

Nine new cases of Covid-19 was reported in Fiji today as the Central Division prepares to go into a major lockdown from Friday night.

A 24-hour curfew will come into effect for Suva and Nausori from 11pm Friday to 4am Tuesday.

Fiji's FBC news reports three of the new cases are co-workers of a staff member of Extra Supermarket, who had tested positive yesterday.

The supermarket has been closed for decontamination purposes while the ministry awaits the test results from the remaining staff and management.

Health Permanent Secretary, Dr James Fong, said Extra Supermarket operates with a well-enforced policy of mask-wearing, and mandated that all staff and customers have the careFIJI app installed with bluetooth turned on, and this has allowed teams to identify hundreds of contacts very quickly.

The next two cases are from Nausori, who are from the same family from Lakena and the two individuals presented to the Nausori Health Centre with Covid symptoms.

Two of their household contacts have also tested positive for Covid-19 and Dr Fong said at this early stage of the investigation, these cases are not linked to other clusters.

One of these individuals worked at Nausori market as a vendor.

An individual in Nausori, from Vunimono, also tested positive after presenting to the health centre and this case, as well, is not linked to other cases.

Dr Fong said so far, none of these six cases in Nausori are currently linked to existing cases and these are all being treated as instances of community transmission until they are proven to be otherwise.

The ninth case today is a border quarantine staff who tested positive in the course of routine testing.

"Our investigations have not pinpointed a source of transmission for this case. Until we know more, we are not allowing any discharges from the quarantine facility in question," Dr Fong said.

He said this series of new clusters requires large-scale contact tracing to the magnitude of several hundred primary and secondary contacts and the cluster emanating from Extra supermarket is of particular concern.

"However, this cluster is unlike past clusters, such as the garment factory case , for one simple reason, careFIJI.

The app's use has given us a huge advantage in identifying the closest contacts stemming from the Extra Supermarket cases. We are already locating them and testing them in droves.

We expect many more of these individuals to register positive test results," he said.

"As is now standard practice, the Suva and Nausori containment areas will merge into one, single lockdown zone.

With everyone safely at home, my teams will use that time to trace, identify, and test as many contacts as possible.

If our investigations reveal large numbers of contacts in other areas, such as Lami, the lockdown order will extend to those areas," he said.