This is the country’s highest number of cases in a single day since the virus resurfaced last week after breaches at a controlled isolation quarantine (MIQ) facility in Nadi.
The Health Ministry stated that eight of the cases were close relatives, including the husband of a 29-year-old female from Makoi, a suburb north east of Suva, who authorities had previously reported was contaminated from an undisclosed source.
Health Secretary Dr James Fong confirmed at a press conference earlier tonight that the woman’s husband, who is a soldier, shared a room with case 73 another soldier who was infected while handling the luggage of two Fijians who returned from India on April 10.
Four other cases were close contacts of a 53 year-old maid who was also infected while in close contact in the room of the initially-infected soldier at the quarantine facility in Nadi.
“Between the negative test result on April 10 and returning home on April 12, he had close contact with case 73, the border quarantine soldier who had also tested negative on 10 April and likely got infected shortly after swabbing.
“Unfortunately, this soldier, who is the husband of the Makoi case, came into contact with case 73, before case 73 was found to be positive.
“The current information indicates that the lady from Makoi caught the virus from her husband.”
Dr Fong said given the timeline of infection, the Makoi woman was now confirmed to be the first local transmission of the virus.
Tempering the news, Dr Fong said initial investigations indicated the Makoi family had a large number of contacts in the community.
He has made a plea for people who attended a church service in Nadi on April 18 or had travelled from the main island, Viti Levu, to any of the outer islands including Vanua Levu from Monday April 19 to contact the health authorities.
“Our likely window of transmission for the family, starting with the husband extends from Monday April 12 to Sunday April 25.
“So of now, there are 36 active cases in isolation, 14 of which are border quarantine cases, with 22 locally transmitted cases.”