Fiji and Covid-19: August 2021
High hopes dashed
I'm sad when I read my last update on the pandemic from March, just five months ago.
"... the restrictions seem to have worked. Fiji's total number of Covid-19 cases is 66, all on the two biggest islands of Viti Levu and Vanua Levu. Only two sufferers have died. Since last July, all new cases have been citizens returning from overseas, diagnosed during their compulsory 14-day quarantine period. The quarantine accommodation is secured by Fiji's military forces."
Just one month after I wrote this, a flight bringing Fiji citizens home from India also brought the Delta variant of Covid-19. Despite Fiji's strict quarantine measures, the virus passed into the community, sweeping in like a destructive cyclone. The precise track the Delta variant took shows how it takes hold anywhere in the world.
A soldier guarding a quarantine facility caught the virus from a passenger on the flight from India. He passed the virus to one of the maids. The virus then infected several of her family and another soldier working in the facility, who in turn passed it onto his wife... Later in the week, one of the infected quarantine workers attended a funeral with 500 mourners. That funeral became Fiji’s first super-spreader event.
Stats and facts in August
This table shows what has happened since that week in April when the present situation was unimaginable to Fijians. Increased government restrictions and police enforcement have not contained the more contagious Delta strain of Covid-19. Fijians typically live at close quarters with each other in large extended-family households. Such conditions are highly favourable to this virus variant.
Quite apart from the illness and deaths totalled in the table, the virus has wreaked havoc on all aspects of people's lives and livelihoods. The Fiji government is unable to provide adequate medical services for 23,598 active cases and the death count climbs daily. The fatality rate, while still less than one per cent at 0.93%, is one of the highest in the world. Hospitals are quite overwhelmed.
Until yesterday, all cases were confined to Viti Levu, Fiji's largest island. But now, a port worker has tested positive in Vanua Levu, the second most highly-populated island.
No jab, no job
Fiji's hopes for recovery now rest on vaccinating the entire adult population of 587,651 by the end of the year. With help from Australia, New Zealand and others, implementation is going well. Today, 91 per cent (531,546) of the target population have received at least one dose and 35 per cent have been fully vaccinated. To improve the take-up, the government has controversially made vaccination compulsory for all its employees.
So far, none of the people who have died from this disease has been fully vaccinated. This fact gives the vaccine credibility among the public. I trust the jab will enable the recovery of Fiji's brave and long-suffering people. I will visit these beautiful islands again as soon as they open for business.
Note:. This information relies on official sources like the Fiji Ministry of Health and WHO. I would be most interested to hear of your own experiences.
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