Fijian prime minister calls for unity as 83 new Covid cases reported

Vaimoana Tapaleao, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 7 Jun 2021, 11:56AM
(Photo / Supplied)
(Photo / Supplied)

Fijian prime minister calls for unity as 83 new Covid cases reported

Vaimoana Tapaleao, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 7 Jun 2021, 11:56AM

Fiji's prime minister is calling on the island nation to stay hopeful in its fight against Covid-19, as a new record number of cases were reported.

A total of 83 new positive cases of the virus were identified yesterday - the highest daily figure yet to be recorded by Fijian health authorities.

Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Frank Bainimarama sent out a statement of hope and encouragement - and called on Fiji to unite in its fight against the virus.

He reassured the island nation that Covid's hold of their home will dissipate.

"It will weaken. And the light at the end of the tunnel will glow brighter and brighter.

"For us, let us recall together that light broke through some of the darkest moments in the history of our country because we Fijians stood united.

"Even in the division - we conquered."

The cases are all thought to be linked to the current community clusters already under lockdown protocols including in Waila, Caubati, Samabula and Navosai, as well as cases among the local Navy and Ministry of Health staff.

Eleven of the cases have an unknown origin, but are being treated as community transmission cases until proven otherwise.

The new cases include people from the province of Naitasiri. Two of yesterday's cases include someone who was recently discharged from the CWM Hospital.

A Ministry of Health update yesterday said the hospital cluster was now its "greatest concern".

As a result, medical teams are moving to provide critical treatment without exposing themselves and their patients to the virus.

The CWM Hospital is set to be cordoned off completely to become a Covid-care facility.

The same measures were carried out at Lautoka Hospital several weeks ago, when a cluster broke out there.

Permanent secretary of health, James Fong, said the high number of cases signals a much larger proportion of cases in the community. He therefore expected more days showing high number of cases.

"We sadly expect more hospitalisations as more severe cases of the disease develop."

In his statement, Bainimarama also encouraged people to use this time as an opportunity - to spend time with family in their respective bubbles, growing food on their lands and teaching children the basics of cooking, farming and weaving.

"Keep the faith, Fiji. See the opportunity in every difficulty."

Cook Islands records positive historical case

As Fiji continues to fight its Covid battle, the Cook Islands reported its first ever positive case of the virus - albeit a historical one.

Te Marae Ora - the country's Ministry of Health - confirmed a Cook Islands man currently holidaying in Rarotonga had tested positive for Covid after arriving in the island nation from Egypt, via Auckland, on May 21.

The man is said to have requested a Covid test as he is due to return to Egypt. The test is a requirement before travelling.

Cook Islands secretary of health, Bob Williams, said ministry staff acted urgently after the positive result came back and had taken the matter very seriously.

"Indications are that the positive test has reacted to an historical infection of Covid-19," he said.

"Overseas, people have been known to continue testing positive for the virus for some considerable time after they have recovered from it and are no longer infectious."

Before authorities had deemed the case to be historical, the affected man and his family - including his wife, son and nine close contacts - were tested and went into self-isolation immediately.

Everyone returned negative results except for the man involved, who was tested again and once again returned a positive result.

It was revealed he had tested positive for Covid-19 after arriving in Auckland from Egypt on May 5. He had been asymptomatic at the time - and is still without symptoms.

Local police are now looking at the information the man provided in his arrival health declaration form, health officials said.

The family involved is no longer isolating and despite the scare, the Cook Islands remains at alert level 1.