Editorial Comment: Dealing with new cases

Ministry of Health acting permanent secretary Dr James Fong with Dr Aalisha Sahu- Khan after a press conference in Suva. Picture: JONACANI LALAKOBAU

With the total number of our new COVID-19 cases standing at eight as of yesterday, health authorities will now be on reassurance mode.

As acting permanent secretary for Ministry of Health and Medical Services Dr James Fong said yesterday, the five new cases were Fijian passengers on board the repatriated flight from India that landed in Nadi on July 1.

We know that the first three cases on board the same flight were announced on July 6.

The new cases involve three males and two females. One, Dr Fong said, is the husband of a border quarantine case announced earlier in the week.

“Four of the cases have no symptoms, and one has mild symptoms. All have been securely transferred to the Nadi or Lautoka hospital isolation facilities,” he said.

What is important here is the fact that all cases are from our border quarantine facilities.

The challenge is now on how well we are able to contain new cases to our quarantine facilities. The key is ensuring all processes and systems are strictly adhered to.

We should be reassured by the fact that the cases were detected in quarantine. How well we manage our processes from here on will determine how well we are able to keep everyone else safe from the virus.

That will mean managing every aspect of the quarantine process, the daily associated tasks that must be carried out, from provision of meals, room service to health monitoring.

Dr Fong said passengers were kept under strict border quarantine conditions from the moment they arrived in Fiji.

They were supervised and screened daily in government designated quarantine facilities. Perhaps the key here is in the statement by Dr Fong:

“I will again re-emphasise here: so long as our border quarantine and infection prevention control protocols are upheld there is no risk to the Fijian public from these latest border quarantine cases. The protocols to prevent transmission between the latest border quarantine cases and the support staff in the quarantine facilities have been upheld – there has been no breach.”

We cannot be complacent though. Let’s keep on course. Let’s adhere to social distancing rules. No shaking of hands please and no hugging.

Wash your hands often with soap and water and use a hand sanitiser if you can. Sneeze into your elbow or into a tissue and dispose this thoughtfully.

If you are out in public, do not touch your face. Global figures give us a frightening reminder of the impact of this pandemic.

Let’s stick to the rules, and stay positive.

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