Covid-19: Christchurch doctor in Fiji - 'We're worried about increasing deaths'

The medical team of experts from Australia and New Zealand arriving in Fiji to help with the...
The medical team of experts from Australia and New Zealand arriving in Fiji to help with the Covid-19 response. Photo: Supplied
A Christchurch doctor who has arrived in Fiji to help with the second wave of Covid-19 says the team is also helping reopen its besieged main hospital to non-Covid-19 patients.

Christchurch Hospital anaesthetist Wayne Morriss arrived in Fiji late last month with a Medical Assistance Team made up of New Zealand and Australian healthcare workers.

The group completed a seven-day quarantine this week and will spend 28 days in the country.

Fiji has suffered a daily record number of Covid-19 cases with 431 infections and two deaths related to the virus in the 24 hours to 8am yesterday.

Dr Morriss said Fijian health authorities were doing their best in trying circumstances, but the situation was grim.

"It's been a really sophisticated response from the Fijian health authorities, but I think that this sort of outbreak would stretch any health system. We're obviously very worried about the increasing number of cases and deaths, and it's fair to say it's really stressing the system."

As the outbreak grew in Fiji and a cluster of cases emerged among health-workers the main hospital in Suva, the Colonial War Hospital, was restricted to almost exclusively Covid-19 patients.

But this has had a serious impact on the rest of the health system, Morriss said.

"The main hospital was effectively closed down a month ago... to patients other than Covid cases, and we know there are ongoing health needs even during a pandemic.

"So there's still lots of patients with medical or surgical problems that need treatment."

The purpose of the Medical Assistance Team is fourfold, Dr Morriss said.

"We are assessing the capacity of the main hospital and will assist with re-opening it for non-Covid patients.

"We've also been asked to support the Fiji Emergency and Medical Assistance Team which is currently working in the Vodafone Arena, and for the next couple of days the National Gymnasium is also going to be opened to take moderately sick Covid patients.

"Those patients will be monitored so that if they deteriorate they will be transferred for more advanced care, to the Colonial War Memorial Hospital.

The fourth area the team are working on is advising Fijian health authorities to upgrade health-workers' PPE.

"The other area that is really important is infection prevention and control, so that's the use of PPE and other measures to reduce the spread of infection within the health facilities. It's really important that the staff and the patients have faith that the PPE and other equipment is going to keep them safe."


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