MEDIA RELEASE 13: COVID-19 (2019 NOVEL CORONAVIRUS)
The Fijian Ministry of Health and Medical Services advises that there are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Fiji.
As of today, 72 countries outside China have reported cases of COVID-19, with 30 countries reported by the World Health Organisation as having local transmission. In light of this worldwide spread, as an extra precaution, we are widening our case definition for suspected cases to include anyone with respiratory symptoms who has recently travelled to a country reported to have local transmission. This should not alarm the public, but be an indication of the high level of alert and stringent preventative measures the Ministry is proactively taking in response to this global outbreak.
As a result of our widened case definition, as of March 4th 2020, four people are being monitored for COVID-19 in Fiji. All four are in strict isolation and in a stable condition while we await test results.
• A 15-month old girl developed respiratory symptoms in Suva today after arriving in Fiji from the United States of America yesterday.
• A 37-year-old Fijian woman returning from a trip to Italy was flagged with respiratory symptoms during a health screening at Nadi airport today.
• A three-year-old Fijian boy and his mother, a 26-year-old Fijian woman, developed respiratory symptoms today after returning from Bali and Singapore.
Contact tracing has commenced for all four patients.
We know that finding cases early and isolating them quickly is key to containing this disease. As the symptoms of COVID-19 are very similar to many other respiratory illnesses (including the common cold and influenza) it is expected that with time the Ministry will investigate more persons with relevant travel history and symptoms related to COVID-19.
What can you do?
The Fijian Ministry of Health and Medical Services wishes to strongly urge the public to not share rumours and misinformation. Just as we did during the measles outbreak the Ministry will inform the public as soon as possible once we have a confirmed case. Use credible sources for information on COVID-19:
Fiji Ministry of Health and Medical Services website http://www.health.gov.fj/
Fiji Ministry of Health and Medical Services Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/MoHFiji/
WHO website https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public
How can you prevent yourself from getting COVID-19 and other diseases?
• Frequently clean hands soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub
• Avoid touching your face – especially your mouth, nose and eyes
• When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – throw tissue away immediately and wash hands
• Avoid close contact with anyone who has fever and cough – stay at least 1 metre away
• Avoid travel to mainland China, Iran, Italy and South Korea
A list of COVID-19 affected countries is available via the latest daily situation report published by the World Health Organisation https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/situation-reports
If you have been to a COVID-19 affected country in the last 14 days and develop a fever, cough or difficulty breathing immediately contact one of the numbers listed below. If you need to see a doctor please call ahead, using the following phone numbers, before visiting to reduce the risk of infecting other patients.
• Central 2219905
• Eastern 2219906
• Western 2219907
• Northern 2219908
The Fijian Ministry of Health and Medical Services is monitoring the developing situation and will provide updates regularly to the public.
STATEMENT FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF IMMIGRATION
As of 2 February 2020, there are no confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Fiji. Given the global spread of the virus, the government has decided on this measure of extreme precaution in the interest of mitigating the risk of an outbreak of the coronavirus in Fiji.
Government is working closely with all international carriers to ensure that any travelers who fall under these restrictions are not permitted to board flights to Fiji at their international departure location. Earlier-announced precautionary measures to maintain a hygienic environment and screen ill passengers will continue to be taken in-flight to further minimise any risk.
Fiji is closely monitoring the spread of the coronavirus and is prepared to pursue more stringent courses of action if deemed necessary.