Fiji's Permanent Secretary for Health, Doctor James Fong confirms two pregnant mothers are part of the 21 deaths from COVID-19 for the period of 14th to 20th July, 2021.

Doctor Fong says both women had been unwell with COVID symptoms at home before presenting to the health facilities in severe respiratory distress.

He says in both cases, the physicians made the decision to conduct emergency caesarean operations to rescue the newborns and assist with the care of the mothers.

Sadly, despite the best efforts of the attending physicians, both mothers passed away.

However, Doctor Fong says the fast actions of the obstetric team saved both babies.

He says maternal deaths at any time are a tragedy, and maternal deaths due to COVID-19 are a clear indication of the severity of this outbreak.

Doctor Fong says given the rapidly evolving situation, the MOH teams have been working around the clock to reprioritise and focus their efforts to ensure they are protecting those most at risk of severe COVID-19 and dying - our elderly, people with existing medical conditions and pregnant women.

He says these shifts include changes to the testing services, home quarantine guidance, ensuring they are providing life-saving medical care to those people who are most at risk and establishing vaccination for pregnant women.

But he says they need people's cooperation because saving lives from COVID-19 depends on ones adherence to the rules in place.

Doctor Fong also says Fiji has seen week-over-week increases in its 7-day rolling average of cases, with another 1,091 new cases confirmed in the past 24-hour period.

He says while the current outbreak is contained to Viti Levu, and primarily in the Lami-Nausori corridor, over the last week they have also seen increasing cases in the Western Division.