The Ministry of Health has confirmed two cases of the Omicron variant after two of the samples sent for testing in Australia returned positive.

Permanent Secretary for Health, Doctor James Fong says the two were part of those travellers who had arrived from an African state and were undergoing quarantine in a border quarantine facility.

The two travellers are Fijian citizens who had returned to Fiji from Nigeria, arriving on Fiji Airways flight FJ1392 from Hong Kong on November 25th – the day the discovery of the Omicron variant was announced internationally.

Dr Fong adds that both travellers tested negative for COVID-19 before departure from Fiji and before they left Nigeria.

They entered a government-designated border quarantine facility immediately upon arrival into Fiji, tested positive while in quarantine, currently have no symptoms and are fully vaccinated.

He says that with the exception of four passengers, all those on the flight were from non-travel partner countries, and therefore entered a border quarantine facility upon arrival to undergo the full quarantine protocol of 10 days.

This has since been extended to 14 days.

The four passengers on the flight who were from a travel partner country have tested negative.

The Fiji Airways crew and accompanying passengers from FJ 1392 have tested negative at least twice.

The Ministry of Health is anticipating an increase in the number of testing following the opening of international travel and with the emergence of this new variant in some of our travel partner countries.

The Permanent Secretary for Health adds that our border health measures and surveillance will be strengthened and maintained.

Dr Fong says the evidence of the Omicron variant’s impact on the transmissibility of the virus, severity of disease, and effect of prior immunity is still in the very early stages.

The Ministry is re-emphasizing that in order to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and our country, we must all get vaccinated.

Scientists are finding it difficult to ascertain the seriousness of the latest variant which was first detected in South Africa.

Some experts are saying this could be a milder version of COVID-19 which could even help the world in the fight against the pandemic.

There have been no deaths reported due to the latest variant.

Meanwhile, 19 new cases of COVID-19 was recorded by the Ministry in its latest update of which three were reported on Saturday, six on Sunday and 10 in the last 24 hour ending at 8am yesterday.

The Ministry did not record any new COVID-19 death.