Fijian Virus Spike Wake Up Call for Pacific Islands: Red Cross

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Suva, Fiji, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News – June 23, 2021): The Red Cross on Wednesday called for accelerated vaccine deployment in vulnerable Pacific island countries as a record wave of Covid-19 threatens to overwhelm the system health center of Fiji.

The two largest hospitals in Fiji have been converted to dedicated Covid-19 facilities, with cases doubling every nine days since the start of a second wave in April.

The situation has been a “serious wake-up call” showing the need for greater emergency in the region, said Pacific Red Cross chief Katie Greenwood.

“In the Pacific, this is a critical time to step up vaccinations… we cannot let our guard down,” she said.

Only about one percent of Fiji’s 930,000 people have been fully immunized, and government health chief James Fong said community unease over vaccinations was straining hospitals.

“If people continue to reject the vaccination and security measures against Covid, this group will start to use up a large part of our health resources because the sick will come from them,” he said.

“This means that we have less and less (of resources) for non-Covid patients.” Fiji has kept community transmission at bay for more than a year by closing its borders, but is currently struggling to contain an outbreak of the highly contagious Delta variant, first identified in India.

Field hospitals have been set up to treat non-virus patients as Covid cases hit 2,200 on Tuesday, with a daily total of 180 infections.

There were also seven deaths in the last outbreak, in addition to the two recorded last year.

Fong said experts in Australia and New Zealand are making plans to help the overworked healthcare system deal with an outbreak that shows no signs of slowing down.

“We are in the escalation phase, we are in the strongly increasing part of the phase here,” he told broadcaster Fijivillage.

“Given the current situation and how it is worsening, we will exceed our reserves.” But Fong defended the government’s policy of trying to contain the virus with localized stay-at-home orders, rather than a nationwide lockdown, arguing the major problem is people are not following social distancing rules.

“People are scared… (but) it’s a little frustrating when you see that fear only induces anger and some people go wild with negative comments,” he said.

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