COVID-19: New Fiji CDC lab to be established in Nadi as testing demands increase

Fiji’s Ministry of Health and Medical Services is working on increasing the country’s testing capacity, and it has now announced the establishment of a new Centre of Disease Control lab for Nadi in August.

Ministry permanent secretary Dr James Fong revealed this last night in his COVID-19 update announcement, saying they were developing a new web-based system for delivering test results to patients.

He said he was aware of some people who had experienced delays in being swabbed and receiving their test results.

At the national level, testing is averaging 4.3 tests per 1000 population per day, and in the Suva-Nausori corridor 6 per 1000 population per day, he said.

And at a population level, Fiji is testing at similar rates to developed countries like Australia, and the state of New South Wales, which also has an outbreak, and are being done through six laboratories, he adds.

“But as cases have increased in the last two weeks, so has the demand for testing, and for non-urgent samples, this affects the turnaround time,” Dr Fong said.

“That has necessitated some important changes for the ministry, and it requires new action from you, the members of the public.

“We need to target our testing to where the result makes a difference to the outcomes of patients – that means we need to target testing for those most at risk of developing severe COVID-19.”

Dr Fong has advised of the following:

For communities in the Lami-Nausori area

For community members who are at lower risk of severe COVID, if you have been in close contact with someone with COVID – for example, you live or work with someone who has COVID-19 – you should assume you also have the virus. This means you should immediately quarantine at home for the next 14 days. If you develop any COVID-19 symptoms during this 14-day period, such as a cough, runny nose, sore throat, fever, loss of taste or smell, body ache, headache – you should most certainly assume you have COVID-19 and self-isolate.

Lower risk patients – Home isolation

Most people infected with COVID-19 will have only mild symptoms and fully recover at home. For lower-risk individuals with COVID, we ask you to please stay at home for 14 days, isolate yourself from other family members, and continue to monitor your symptoms for severe COVID-19. If you develop any signs of severe COVID-19, like difficulty breathing or chest pain, please go to one of our dedicated health facilities.

Higher risk patients

For community members in the Lami-Nausori area who are at high risk of severe COVID-19, we will be prioritising the testing and rapid turnaround of their results. If you or someone you are caring for is at high risk of severe COVID – in particular individuals over 50 years, have a chronic illness such as diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, asthma, are obese, or are pregnant – we need you to get in touch right away and visit one of our screening clinics. If you test positive, then we will ensure you are provided immediate care by our health teams.