Fijian health authorities monitor Omicron COVID-19 variant

Health Ministry permanent secretary Dr James Fong. Picture: FILE/ JONACANI LALAKOBAU

Health authorities are closely monitoring the new coronavirus variant, omicron, that shows to carry significant mutations that could spell higher rates of transmissibility and virulence, says Health Ministry permanent secretary Dr James Fong.

The new coronavirus variant was discovered in South Africa last week.

In a statement, he urged Fijians to take extra COVID-19 safety measures.

“We commend South Africa on identifying and publishing the first information on this new variant,” Dr Fong said.

“So far field evidence does suggest higher transmissibility.

“However, more study is needed to determine if transmissibility is truly increased, if the variant is less responsive to natural and vaccine-induced immunity, and if the disease caused by the variant is more severe.”

He said the new variant was a reminder that for as long there was a pandemic Fiji would continue to face a threat from the virus and its variants.

“The most important step every Fijian can take in response to this variant is to become fully vaccinated and encourage others around us to do the same.

“We have one of the highest rates of vaccine coverage in the world,– but Fiji is safest when we achieve as close to 100 per cent coverage as possible. We must continue to adhere closely to the other health protection measures we know can limit the spread, including good handwashing, mask-wearing, and physical distancing.”

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