Fiji’s COVID-19 hospital mortuary full, Delta variant fuels record infections

An empty downtown street can be seen as shops closed and only major shops and restaurants offering takeout service remained open amid a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Suva, Fiji, June 27 2021 concerns. Picture dated June 27, 2021. REUTERS / David Hotchin NO RESELLES. NO ARCHIVES.

CANBERRA, July 5 (Reuters) – Fiji reported a record 636 COVID-19 infections and six deaths on Tuesday, struggling to contain an outbreak of the highly communicable COVID-19 delta variant, taking the morgue at the Pacific Island’s main hospital capacity was already full.

Since the pandemic began, Fiji has reported a total of 39 deaths, but most since the Delta variant emerged in April.

Located about 2,000 kilometers north of New Zealand and with a population of less than a million people mostly concentrated on two islands in the archipelago, Fiji initially managed to keep the coronavirus at bay.

The government has resisted calls for a national lockdown.

The infections that broke out in recent months have been suspected to have been caused by a quarantine violation.

The Colonial War Memorial Hospital in the capital Suva is the largest public hospital in Fiji with 500 beds and is responsible for treating COVID-19 patients.

On Monday, the government said many patients were late for treatment and the hospital morgue was full, although some victims died at home.

“Unfortunately, we see people with the serious illness die at home or on the way to hospital before our medical teams have a chance to provide potentially life-saving treatment,” the Fiji Ministry of Health said in an email.

About 54% of Fijians have received at least one dose of the AstraZeneca or Sinopharm vaccine, according to official data, while nearly 9% have received a second.

Meanwhile, Australia said Tuesday that it will donate 15 million COVID-19 vaccines to the Pacific island states and Timor-Leste by mid-2022.

Reporting from Colin Packham; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

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