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31 Jul 2021 20:39
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  •   Home > News > International

    Fiji's worsening COVID-19 Delta outbreak claims the lives of two pregnant women

    The women present to hospital with severe respiratory symptoms, but can not be saved despite emergency caesarean sections being performed; both babies survived.


    Two pregnant woman have died from COVID-19 in Fiji as part of a worsening outbreak over the last week.

    The country's Health Secretary James Fong said the women presented to hospital in a serious condition.

    "Both women had been unwell at home with COVID symptoms before presenting to health facilities in severe respiratory distress," he said.

    Doctors then made the decision to perform emergency surgery.

    Emergency caesarean sections were performed to rescue the babies and assist with the care of the mothers.

    "Sadly, despite the best efforts of the attending physicians, both mothers passed away," he said.

    "However, the fast actions of the obstetrics team saved both babies."

    Pregnant women have been facing anxiety and fear as the pandemic has put a strain on the health system, causing uncertainty about where to get maternal care.

    Delta variant rips through Fiji

    Fiji reported 1,091 new COVID-19 cases yesterday, and 21 new deaths in the last seven days.

    Dr Fong said the mothers' deaths highlight the severity of the problem.

    "Maternal deaths due to COVID-19 are a clear indication of the severity of this outbreak," Dr Fong said.

    Fiji has the highest number of infections per capita in the world, but the government has refused to institute a lockdown, saying it would "kill jobs and could kill the country's future".

    Instead, the government has pushed forward with a vaccination drive, making vaccination compulsory for all workers, who face fines or forced leave if they don't get the jab.

    Although Fiji had early success with keeping the virus at bay by closing its borders, controlling the highly transmissible Delta variant has posed a major challenge to health authorities.

    About 58 per cent of Fijians in the targeted population to receive the vaccine have had at least one dose of AstraZeneca, according to official data.

    Just under 12 per cent have received a second dose.

    Though the government has not introduced a widespread lockdown, curfews and limits to public gatherings have been put in place.

    Meanwhile, areas where active cases are spreading have been declared containment zones, and people are not allowed in or out.

    But with cases still surging, there are concerns this strategy isn't working.

    Australia sends help

    With the Delta variant wreaking havoc in the Pacific nation since April, Australia has stepped up its efforts to help.

    A team of 17 personnel from Australia and New Zealand travelled to the capital Suva last week to work with local health authorities to attempt to stop the spread of the virus within Fiji's health care facilities.

    And last month, Australia sent an additional 50,000 more doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Fiji, on top of the 200,000 already delivered. 

    The Australian government has pledged to provide a total of 1 million doses.

    Fiji is expecting every eligible person over 18 to have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by mid-August and be fully vaccinated by November.

    [Click through to send us your questions about COVID-19]

    © 2021 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved

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