COVID-19: Authorities declare Vanua Levu COVID-free

An empty Labasa Market with only vendors and no customers. Picture: SERAFINA SILAITOGA

Vanua Levu – north of Fiji – is COVID-19 free as of yesterday.

Health Ministry permanent secretary Dr James Fong announced this yesterday after reports surfaced that certain areas in Labasa were sealed off because of a suspected case of COVID-19.

“We flagged a potential case of COVID-19 yesterday in the Northern Division after an individual residing in Labasa initially registered a weak positive COVID-19 test result for a sample tested at the Labasa Hospital laboratory,” he said.

“Two retests of the same sample generated negative results at the same lab.

“While we suspected this was a false positive given the unusual nature of the tests results, we immediately took preventative action to cordon off the area in which the individual resided, as well as sections of Labasa Hospital.

“We also isolated the individual and quarantined and tested his close contacts. They have all since tested negative.”

Dr Fong said a repeat swab for the man also tested negative and a swab taken two days before the weak positive swab has also tested negative at Fiji Centre for Disease Control.

“The patient has never displayed any COVID-like symptoms. After consultations with our in-country experts and the WHO, we can confirm this was indeed a false positive test result, a rare occurrence that has been known to happen worldwide.

“We have protocols in place to identify these rare occurrences when they happen, and these protocols have functioned well in this case.

“There are no COVID-19 cases detected in the Northern Division. The containment zones established in response to this case are no longer in force.”

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