Editorial comment – Important issues

Australian Medical Assistance Team (AUSMAT) mission leader Dr Brian Spain shares a COVID safe fist bump PM Voreqe Bainimarama. Picture: FILE

In the face of the frightening rise in the number of COVID-19 cases in Fiji, we see two important issues that must be raised and dealt with urgently. For starters, it appears that Fijians are presenting themselves late to hospitals.

This, according to Australian Medical Assistance Team (AUSMAT) mission leader Dr Brian Spain. He echoed sentiments shared earlier by Health Ministry  permanent secretary Dr James Fong – that people with severe disease were dying at home or on their way to the  hospital.

The second point is that it seems people are hesitant to present themselves or loved ones early to health clinics out of the fear of contracting COVID-19.

This is according to Health Ministry head of wellness Dr Devina Nand.

Now when asked about reports that some Fijians were hesitant to present themselves to hospitals because of fear of being tested positive for COVID-19, Dr Fong said anyone with COVID like symptoms must be presumed to have COVID until proven otherwise.

The disease burden in the Central Division is such, he said, that anyone with COVID like symptoms must be presumed to have COVID until proven otherwise.

Dr Spain mentioned something else that is interesting. He said it was diffi cult to know exactly when the
peak of COVID-19 cases was going to be reached.

“And we know that usually with COVID disease, that people get sick gradually over a week or so,” he said.

“And then they get critical.”

Dr Spain reiterated the need for a strong ambulance service to cater for the demand to pick up sick people.

He advised people to practise COVID-19 safety rules and protocols by staying home and only going out when necessary, washing hands and wearing a mask.

This will minimise the number of people who get sick.

“We know of a proportion of the people who get sick, they will get severely ill.

“And importantly, if they’ve been vaccinated, you can still get COVID, but you’re much less likely to get sick enough to go to the hospital. So that’s why even one dose of the vaccine is so important, and two doses is even better.”

Dr Nand said it was advisable for people to take advantage of the 165 helpline.

“There is hesitancy about bringing patients to clinics because a lot of people are worried about getting COVID, but what I would urge the public to do is use the 165 line if you have any issues,” she said.

Dr Nand said the biggest worry for the ministry was people who were COVID positive and roaming around spreading the disease.

“It is every individual’s responsibility to control this and if we can self-isolate and stop it spreading from others than we’ve done this country justice.”

By now, the majority of Fijians know what must be done to win this war.

We urge you to do the right thing. Talk to your loved ones. Advise them to adhere to COVID-19 safety tips.

Urge them to listen to health experts.

To the powers that be, perhaps there should be urgent follow-ups of people directed to isolate at home after positive results. We can only hope some aren’t going to buy food and medicine because no one is checking up on them.

Perhaps they see themselves staring at a blank wall with little option available.

Let’s do this together Fiji. United forward!

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