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By Timoci Vula in Lautoka, Fiji

Fiji’s Lautoka Hospital is now closed to members of the public after a new positive case announced last night was that of a patient who was admitted for a surgical procedure at the hospital.

Health Secretary Dr James Fong said all medical services would now be re-routed to a network of back-up hospitals in Nadi, Ba, Sigatoka, as well as the Punja and Kamikamica health centres in Lautoka.

“We’ve activated the entire government machinery to ensure these critical services remain accessible to our people,” Dr Fong said.

The Fiji Times reports that a 53-year-old patient at Lautoka Hospital had died – the third death from covid-19 in Fiji.

Fiji has recorded four more new cases, and among these are two returning peacekeepers from the Golan Heights.

As announced before, he said the borders of the containment areas were open to those travelling for medical emergencies.

“Given we expect more cases, and more severe cases, sections within the Lautoka Hospital are being converted into intensive care units which will house additional beds and ventilators,” he added.

Staff accommodated in hospital
Dr Fong said the staff of Lautoka Hospital would be accommodated and work within the hospital while contact tracing continued.

“Remember, our staffing capacity was already stretched due to quarantine of the close contacts of our two doctors,” he said.

“Those who are working will operate on high-alert, fully-equipped in the proper personal protective equipment.

“They will be screened regularly and tested often.

“We are going to provide them with any and all support that they need. Food, supplies, bedding, whatever they require, we will provide.”

Earlier last night, Dr Fong said some staff who had left the hospital had been called back in, and Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) personnel and police officers had ring-fenced the entire hospital. They would strictly manage who was allowed onto the premises.

“More than 400 patients, doctors, nurses, and other staff have been sequestered and will be effectively quarantined within the hospital until we can determine who else may or may not have had contact with this patient,” Dr Fong said.

Timoci Vula is a Fiji Times reporter.

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