Less than a month after reopening to the world, Fiji is bracing for a third wave of the coronavirus outbreak.
Two weeks ago, Fiji was reporting less than 10 cases of Covid-19.
This week, the Health Ministry has confirmed 208 new cases of Covid-19 in the community with 20 reported on Christmas Day, 109 on Boxing Day and 79 on Monday.
On December 24, the ministry reported 109 new cases; 40 of them were recorded on December 23 and 69 cases on Christmas Eve.
Fiji reopened its borders to international travellers on December 1 and thousands of tourists have arrived from its partner countries such as New Zealand, Australia and the United States.
While it is not clear how many of the latest cases are tourists, RNZ Pacific is aware some tourists at a Fiji resort are being isolated after testing positive to Covid-19.
In a message dated December 27 and obtained by RNZ, the InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa in Nadi had advised its guests that "there are currently several guests at the resort who have returned positive Covid-19 tests".
Intercontinental said these guests were "isolating in a dedicated area of the resort, as per Ministry of Health guidelines and protocols".
"While these guests are isolating and do not pose a risk to other guests, we remind you to remain vigilant and to advise the resort team immediately if you develop any symptoms.
"Please refer to the welcome letter you received upon arrival which outlines the government isolation requirements for any guests who test positive for Covid," InterContinental said.
All travellers to Fiji are required to present proof, on arrival at Nadi Airport, of a negative Covid-19 test 72 hours before departure.
The InterContinental Resort in Fiji. Photo / Supplied, RNZ
They are also required to spend three days at any Care Fiji Commitment (CFC) hotel or resort, undergoing a Covid-19 test on day 2 of their stay. If they return a negative result, they are released on day 3.
Wearing of face masks in enclosed spaces is mandatory as well as at outdoor locations where groups of people can gather.
While in Fiji, tourists are also encouraged to use CFC-approved excursions and tours.
Intercontinental is situated behind the popular public Natadola Beach and it has advised its guests to book their tours, massages, horse-riding and other excursions within the resort at the Rosie's Tour Desk and Concierge.
"This is for your own security and safety," InterContinental said.
Fiji's Health Secretary Dr James Fong said cases of Covid-19 continue to be identified among travellers into Fiji.
He said these cases were in fully vaccinated individuals who tested negative on their three-day pre-departure PCR test and they are currently in isolation within hotels.
"All their positive samples will be sent to our partner laboratory in Australia for genomic sequencing," Fong said.
"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.
"To protect ourselves, our loved ones, and our country, we must all get vaccinated when it is our turn and continue to be strict with our covid safe measures."
Fong said the Covid-19 cases were increasing rapidly globally and "especially so in the European and Americas region and throughout Africa".
While he did not confirm if any of the latest cases were the Omicron variant, Fong said the "new highly transmissible variant is contributing significantly to this increase."
"We anticipate an increasing number of cases from border quarantine facilities," Fong said.
"Increased and sustained surveillance and testing at our borders, communities, and maritime islands are vital to monitor and detect Covid-19 cases for early intervention.
"This epidemic curve depicts the daily positive cases since the second wave of this outbreak that began in April 2021.
Children and teens being vaccinated in Fiji. Photo / Supplied, Fijian government, RNZ
"For this second wave, there have been 52,953 cases recorded, with 71 per cent of the cases from the Central Division, 28 per cent from the Western Division, and 1 per cent of the cases were from the Eastern and Northern divisions.
"Of the 208 cases, 145 cases were recorded in the North; 32 in the West and 31 cases were recorded in the Central Division.
"Our national seven-day rolling average is eight daily cases calculated for December 23, 2021."
Fong said 91.9 per cent of the adult population had been fully vaccinated, while 97.7 per cent were yet to receive their second dose of the vaccine.
He said 39,857 children aged 12 to 17 were also fully vaccinated, while 58,260 teenagers in Fiji were yet to get their second injection.
Fiji has a total of 487 active cases of Covid-19 in isolation, with the death toll at 697.
Fong said 21 Covid-19 patients are in hospital in the Central Division.
- by Christine Roivoi, RNZ