Fiji confirms new COVID case

Fiji has confirmed a new case of coronavirus related to a recent travel from India, ending an 80-day streak of no active cases.

Fiji’s Acting Permanent Secretary for Health,  Dr James Fong, says the case is a “border quarantine case” which was identified and securely contained by stringent border protection protocols.

Fiji Broadcasting Corporation reports the 66-year-old who returned from India was in his mandatory 14-day quarantine period and tested COVID-19 positive last night.

Dr Fong says the man returned from a medical procedure with his son and was travelling with 107 other passengers on his flight.

“On the fourth of July the Ministry of Health and Medical Services personnel detected COVID like symptoms in a 66-year-old man who had returned from India,” Dr Fong said.

“He had gone to India for medical procedures and was detected to have symptoms on the third day of his mandatory 14-day quarantine. He was tested and registered a positive COVID-19 test result last night and has since been securely and hygienically transported to Nadi Hospital where he has been kept in isolation.”

Dr Fong said both the man and his son are now in isolation at the Nadi Hospital.

“The son is not displaying any symptoms, regardless, we have tested him and his result is expected tomorrow. This latest case is the reason why we have been careful not to label Fiji as COVID-19 free.

“We believe that as long as a nation welcomes back its own citizens, it cannot reliably claim itself free of a virus.”

Head of Health Protection, Dr Aalisha Sahukhan, says the 107 passengers were tested for COVID-19 in India before any of them board the plane.

“Anyone coming from India to Fiji needs to be tested before they get on the plane because we designate that as a high risk country,” she said.

“However, you get tested a few days before you actually board the plane so two things can happen; one, is that you could have the virus in your body already but the levels of the virus may not be high enough for the test to detect the virus. The other, is that from the time your sample is taken to get tested, there are a few days where the people are still in India.”

Fiji’s Ministry of Health says they cannot rely completely on COVID-19 testing to determine a passenger’s COVID status and it’s critical for them to closely monitor those in quarantine for any development of symptoms.

All other 107 passengers on the flight have been tested for the virus.

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