Travellers from Africa test positive

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

The Ministry of Health has announced that a number of travellers arriving from the African continent tested positive – but it will not say how many.

The Ministry of Health permanent secretary, Dr James Fong, said the positive cases included “just a few” Fijians travelling from African states.

“We are doing contact tracing like we always did for positives found on any flight,” Dr Fong said.

“Everyone eligible to be contacted are undergoing the contact tracing process, including passengers, airline staff and all airport staff. “We have stepped-up entry conditions for red list countries in response to the omicron variant.

“We have strengthened strict conditions for entry for incoming travellers from red list countries in response to the newly reported omicron variant of COVID-19.”

Dr Fong said they were monitoring the omicron variant closely, as it had been shown to carry significant mutations that could spell higher rates of transmissibility and virulence.

“We commend South Africa on identifying and publishing the first information on this new variant. 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.

“The process of risk assessment for our red list and travel partner countries (TPC) was developed with the knowledge that new variants of the virus were highly likely to be detected.

“It analyses factors such as country vaccine coverage and rates of community transmission and we will continue to rely on that assessment process moving forward.”

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