NEWS

COVID-19: Dangerous COVID-19 Variant Originating From India Is Here

Permanent Secretary for Health and Medical Services Doctor James Fong confirmed this last night.
28 Apr 2021 10:06
COVID-19: Dangerous COVID-19 Variant Originating From India Is Here

The highly dangerous and more contagious Indian variant of the coronavirus has been confirmed to be the variant infecting Fijians in recent days.

Permanent Secretary for Health and Medical Services Doctor James Fong confirmed this last night.

He said: “We have received confirmation from the Microbiological Diagnostic Unit (MDU) at the Peter Doherty Institute in Melbourne that recent cases of COVID-19 are of the B1617 variant that was first detected in India.

“As I mentioned yesterday, our contact tracing investigations meant that we already strongly suspected that this was the variant in question – as case 73, the soldier working in border quarantine only had contact with recent border quarantine cases who had travelled from India,” Dr Fong said.

“This has informed our containment measures, and we have already adapted them accordingly, but I want the public to have a clear grasp of the stakes here — because the discipline and diligence of ordinary Fijians will make or break our containment of this viral variant.”

This newly-confirmed COVID variant is one of several dangerous new variants that have taken root in places like Brazil, South Africa, the United Kingdom, the United States, and in India –– which is suffering a painful fourth wave the likes of which the world has never seen.

About this variant

As reported by the BBC: “India is now in the grips of a public health emergency. Social media feeds are full with videos of COVID funerals at crowded cemeteries, wailing relatives of the dead outside hospitals, long queues of ambulances carrying gasping patients, mortuaries overflowing with the dead, and patients, sometimes two to a bed, in corridors and lobbies of hospitals.”

Dr Fong said we cannot let that nightmare happen in Fiji.

“We still have time to stop it from happening. But a single misstep could bring about the same “COVID tsunami” that our friends in India, Brazil, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States are enduring,” he said.

“Stopping that tsunami depends on two major factors: You, staying at home, and us, tracing and isolating all known cases. I’ll stand before you every day to update you on the latter.

“While the results from Melbourne confirmed a frightening new variant, they also confirmed that we are on the right track in our containment efforts: The genetic sequencing revealed that all of the samples sequenced so far have the same virus variant.”

What it means:

  • Case 73 (the border quarantine soldier),
  • Case 74 (the hotel worker who attended the Tavakubu funeral),
  • and the woman from Wainitarawau in Cunningham are all within the same cluster.

It also reveals that two of the recently announced border quarantine cases from the same border quarantine facility, soldiers recently returned from duties overseas, also have the same variant.

He said this indicates transmission within that border quarantine facility.

Edited by Ranoba Baoa

Feedback: fonua.talei@fijisun.com.fj



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