The New Zealand Government is set to donate 250,000 doses of AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine to Fiji. The announcement came yesterday as the Pacific nation — currently under lockdown — announced five new cases of the virus, some of which are the result of communiuty transmission.
Fiji's Ministry of Health said the first two cases were close household contacts of previously announced cases, and they tested positive while secure in quarantine facilities.
The third case is a former border quarantine passenger who arrived from Papua New Guinea into Nadi on Friday, April 9th. The fourth case is a 68-year-old male in Rakiraki. He tested positive after presenting to the Rakiraki hospital outpatients department with a cough and fever.
The fifth case tested is a border quarantine case. He is a 23-year-old male who travelled from Guyana to Fiji, arriving April 22nd on NZ952 from Auckland. He tested positive while undergoing mandatory 14-day quarantine at a border quarantine facility in Nadi.
Meanwhile, the donated vaccine supplies will come from New Zealand's domestic vaccine portfolio, New Zealand Associate Minister of Health and Foreign Affairs Aupito William Sio and Fiji Health and Medical Services Minister Ifereimi Waqainabete announced.
“New Zealand and Fiji are working together closely to support Fiji with access to safe and effective Covid-19 vaccines at the earliest opportunity,” the ministers said.
Both ministers stressed that there are still a number of steps to work through before the vaccines can be delivered. The vaccine still has to be approved by Medsafe before it can be used in New Zealand and donated to Fiji.
The ministers met virtually last week to discuss New Zealand’s offer, which also includes $2 million of official development assistance to support Fiji’s vaccine rollout.
“Fiji has worked hard to keep Covid-19 contained and New Zealand has been committed to supporting it in this,” Sio said.
“But this success has been hard won. Following recent community cases in both our countries, we see a vaccine as key to protecting our people from the virus, and for our economic and social recovery.”
Waqainabete added: “Fiji has chosen to roll out AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine following earlier deliveries through the COVAX AMC and from India, and we are delighted New Zealand has been able to support us to continue our campaign."
It comes as masks, gloves and bottles of hand sanitiser have arrived in Fiji to be used by police officers on the frontline of the country's Covid-19 outbreak.
The 10,000 KN95 masks, 30,000 gloves and 300 bottles of hand sanitiser were supplied by New Zealand and the United Nations Development Programme.