Surge In Influenza Cases Strain Hospitals Outpatient Capacity

Ministry to open more facilities and extend opening hours to reduce waiting times
18 Mar 2022 12:47
Surge In Influenza Cases Strain Hospitals Outpatient Capacity
Permanent Secretary for Health and Medical Services Dr James Fong. Photo: Ronald Kumar

The surge in influenza cases has caused a severe strain on outpatient care capacity in the country.

Permanent Secretary for Health and Medical Services Dr James Fong said the ministry was still seeing a high number of Leptospirosis, Typhoid, Dengue and Diarrhea cases while continuing efforts to support COVID-19 vaccination needs.

Dr Fong said these factors together increased the pressure on all healthcare services, especially outpatient facilities.

He added that before the pandemic, Fiji’s influenza season usually began in January and ended by May to June.

“However, in 2020 and 2021 there was a marked decrease in cases of influenza detected, a trend that was also seen in other countries,” Dr Fong said.

“It is likely that public health and social measures deployed for COVID-19 worked to decrease other respiratory viruses, including influenza.

“The current increase in cases suggests a return to pre-pandemic levels of seasonal influenza, however, it is also possible that decreased incidence of influenza in recent years will have led to decreased immunity in the community, and subsequently more people becoming ill than in a usual flu season.”

He added that children under the age of five (especially babies) and the elderly were most at risk of severe influenza.

He said the ministry had begun working on measures to open more facilities with extended service hours and streamline outpatient services to help reduce waiting times.

“We have recently seen the return of many of our staff from annual leave that had been deferred during the second and third waves of COVID-19, as well as sick leave during this increase in flu.

“We have also made adjustments in our outreach programmes to deal with LTDD, and vaccination needs, in order to free up staff for outpatients services in health centers to help improve services.”




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