Fiji has reported a record number of Covid deaths over the past week, including two pregnant women, as the country struggles to contain a severe outbreak of the virus.
A total of 21 people died between July 14 and 20, the country’s health minister, James Fong, said. Another 1,091 new cases of Covid were also confirmed in the 24 hours to 8 a.m. on Wednesday.
Both pregnant women came to the hospital with severe respiratory distress last week and were evaluated by specialists who decided to perform emergency C-sections, Fong said.
The babies survived, but “sadly, despite the best efforts of their treating physicians, both mothers passed away,” he said.
“Maternal deaths at any time are a tragedy, and maternal deaths due to Covid-19 are a clear indication of the severity of this outbreak,” he continued.
Fiji had largely escaped the pandemic until April this year, when a group emerged linked to a quarantine facility. Since then, the country has registered more than 20,000 cases and 144 deaths. Over the past week, the seven-day average daily test positivity rate was 27.5%.
“Given the rapidly evolving situation, our teams have been working around the clock to shift priorities and focus our efforts to ensure that we are protecting those most at risk of severe Covid-19 and dying: our elderly, people with existing medical conditions and pregnant women, “Fong said.
“These changes include changes to our testing services, home quarantine guidelines, ensuring that we provide life-saving health care to those most at risk, and establishing vaccination for pregnant women.”
Only 14% of Fijians are fully vaccinated, although more than 400,000 of the population of almost 900,000 people have received a first dose of vaccine.