WELLINGTON, New Zealand — The military and police in the Pacific nation of Fiji have surrounded and locked down a major hospital amid concerns of a growing virus outbreak.
Health authorities say they’re quarantining 400 patients, doctors, nurses and staff within the compound until they can determine who had contact with a coronavirus patient who died.
The 53-year-old patient at Lautoka Hospital was just the third person in Fiji to die from the virus but the nation’s leaders are deeply worried that the latest outbreak is spreading, especially after two doctors at the hospital tested positive for the virus.
Authorities say that throughout the country, there are currently 28 cases of community transmission. They have restricted movement in six so-called containment areas, including the capital, Suva.
Fiji's health system is ill-equipped to deal with a major outbreak.
Dr. James Fong, the permanent secretary for health, said the hospital is closed and all medical services are being diverted to other facilities. He said those sequestered in the hospital would be provided with food, bedding and whatever other supplies they needed.
“Right now, we are in a war with this virus and the frontline has just extended to Lautoka Hospital,” Dr. Fong said. “This will be the greatest test our health care system has ever faced –– it will be a test for all of us. Lives are at stake, sacrifices must be made, and every Fijian’s commitment is needed. The virus is insidious, it is unrelenting.”
Fiji is located north of New Zealand and is home to just under 1 million people.