Coronavirus: Fiji shuts hospital, quarantines staff after serious COVID-19 case

Fiji's Lautoka Hospital has been cordoned off, closed to the public, with the staff all sequestered and quarantined within it.

This comes after permanent secretary of health Dr James Fong said there was a very serious COVID-19 infection case.

There were four new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday. Two were at the border, soldiers returning from peacekeeping in the Golan Heights, and two local.

Dr Fong said one of the local victims was in intensive care. He said the 53-year-old man, on two occasions, refused a COVID-19 test while in the hospital for a surgical procedure.

Both the Lautoka doctors who have contracted COVID-19 had had contact with the man. Dr Fong said it is believed the man was a likely late-stage carrier of the virus.

Hence, Dr Fong believes the man may have transmitted the virus to the doctors, not the other way around.

He said because they did not know where the man contracted it, his case appeared to be a red flag for widespread transmission, meaning more cases of the virus out there.

Dr Fong said to prevent the hospital from becoming ground zero for a wider outbreak, the disciplined forces have locked it down, making it a tightly-contained, full-time COVID-19 care facility.

More than 400 patients, doctors, nurses, and other staff have been sequestered and will be effectively quarantined within the hospital until it is determined who else may have had contact with this patient.

Some staff who had left the hospital have been called back in.

Lautoka Hospital is closed to the public and all medical services are being re-routed to other regional hospitals

Dr Fong said given that more severe cases were expected, sections within Lautoka Hospital were being converted into intensive care units.