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Fiji confirms 18th case of Covid-19

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SUVA (Pacnews) — Fiji's has recorded it 18th case of Covid-19. Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama in his address to the nation Monday said the latest victim is a 51-year-old woman from Ba.

“From Friday through today, we have tested 123 samples for the coronavirus. One test returned what we call a ‘soft positive’ result  meaning we couldn’t say with certainty whether this sample was positive for Covid-19. After further testing and consultations with our reference lab in Melbourne, they found that these results indicate this sample came from someone in the final stages of recovery from coronavirus.

“This, combined with a travel history from the United States last month, was enough for us to call this case ‘highly likely’  and in my book, when Fijian lives are at stake, that means ‘positive.’ So clinically, we have officially confirmed this patient  a 51-year-old woman in Ba  as our 18th case of Covid-19.”

Bainimarama said the woman was cleared after 14 days in isolation, but later developed Covid-19-like symptoms.

“The patient returned from the United States on the 22nd of March. After completing 14 days of home quarantine, she was cleared. Only later did she develop Covid-like symptoms. She was then tested, giving us the soft positive result. The results of her test make it likely this patient has been carrying Covid-19 for weeks. Luckily, our contact tracing  which began as soon as she was first tested on the 18th of April  identifies her as a low-risk transmitter.

“This patient shares a home with three others — all three have tested negative for the virus. Regardless, they have all been placed in isolation. We’ve traced and identified her other casual contacts; they have all been entered into compulsory home quarantine,” PM Bainimarama said.

He said Ba town will not be in lock down.

“Because of the low-risk nature of this patient spreading the virus, and our ability to quickly test and contain her few close contacts, we will not be locking down Ba town. However, our mobile teams will be conducting a large-scale screening of the entire province. As with Lautoka and Suva, public cooperation is vital to this effort  if we don’t see sufficient numbers from these screenings, Ba will risk a total lockdown,” Bainimarama said.

He said the government is also introducing new health protection measures nationwide.

“This virus is deadliest in already-ill patients  that’s why it’s vital we keep coronavirus away from patients in hospital. We’ll also be introducing compulsory testing for Fijians returning from overseas in government-funded quarantine after 14 days  if they test negative after the critical 14-day incubation period, they will be able to spend the remaining 14 days of their quarantine at home.

“This latest case goes to show: This virus is still out there in our communities. Our 18th case has been present in Fiji for almost a month  while her transmission risk is low, she was certainly not the only unconfirmed coronavirus case in the country. This is a complex and contagious virus, and  no matter the strength of our safety nets  cases can slip through the cracks, as we’ve in other countries, especially individuals who never show symptoms,” PM Bainimarama stressed.

He said three Fijians diagnosed with the virus have made full recoveries from the coronavirus.

“That means these Fijians have tested negative for the virus twice, with over 24 hours in between tests. We also have several individuals in isolation who  after over 30 days  have not tested positive for the virus. Our recovered patients, along with those who have continually tested negative, will be released. Out of an abundance of caution, they will remain under supervised home quarantine for 14 days. Our other 15 patients living with Covid-19 all remain in stable condition.

“We should celebrate these recoveries. But we should do so knowing Fiji’s recovery from this virus is still months’ away at best. We can get there  we will get there  day by day, test by test, and recovery by recovery,” said Bainimarama.

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