Prime Ministers announcement – COVID-19 Update for 7 March 2022 (CKT)

7 March 2022

Kia orana tatou katoatoa,

Today we are reporting our first COVID-19 case on Aitutaki. This case is included in the total active cases which now number 130. I can advise that 11 cases have now recovered and there are no cases in hospital. These case numbers are as at 8am this morning.

With regard to the confirmed case in Aitutaki, it was not unexpected. We knew that at some stage cases would get through the border testing, just as they did here in Rarotonga. We are prepared for this.

The case provided a negative RAT test at the airport prior to departure as per Public Health Regulations.

The case is an Aitutaki Resident, the person is keeping well and is now isolating at home. Household contacts are currently being identified and are asked to quarantine. I understand that our Aitutaki community may have some concerns. If you are concerned about your own potential exposure, please call Aitutaki Hospital or the COVID-19 Operations Centre on 0800 1222. You will then be advised what to do next or if you need to be tested.

You do not need to go to Aitutaki Hospital for testing unless you have symptoms or have been contacted by Te Marae Ora.

Like our situation on Rarotonga and in fact throughout our country, the population on Aitutaki is highly vaccinated and prepared.

Over the weekend 24 cases were confirmed.

From now on most testing in Rarotonga will take place at the 5 Community Health Clinics and will be for symptomatic people.

The clinics will all be open Monday to Sunday from 9am to 3pm. People with COVID-19 symptoms should isolate at home until they can have a test.

In addition, the Kavera testing station will be open 4pm-7pm Monday to Friday and the Airport testing station will also be open during Air Rarotonga’s operating hours for a fee of $10.

As part of our next phase of the response, RAT tests will be used to diagnose new cases as is occurring in NZ. No additional PCR test will be required except for clinical reasons.

To all our people who have taken the time to either get themselves tested, vaccinated or both this week – meitaki ma’ata. Your efforts are a major factor in the success we are having in managing this virus.

What is not so helpful, unfortunately, is that our Puna security people are finding that some of those people who have been asked to isolate, are not following the rules. This is very selfish and presents a risk not only to themselves, but to others in the community.

Te Marae Ora will now appoint the EOC Team Leads as Health Officers. This action will empower them to exercise powers under the COVID-19 Act.

Te Marae Ora is focussed on slowing down the spread of the virus so as to not overwhelm the health system and to ensure essential services can continue to operate and to that end, we all have a role to play. Wear your masks, keep your distance from others, wash your hands regularly and avoid large gatherings.

Although our high vaccination rates will protect us from serious illness or hospitalisations and death, it still means a person will have to take 10 days off for isolation purposes.  This can be an inconvenience for our workers especially essential workers.

I want to again pass on our sincere thanks to our incredible staff, volunteers, and officials at Te Marae Ora, in our Punas, and from all the many other government departments and private sector teams who have working together to combat COVID-19 and its effects.

Beating COVID-19 and protecting our communities is a responsibility we all share, both as a government and as a people. We have worked well thus far, and it is my sincere hope we all continue to do so.

Thank you all for playing your part in helping to protect the Cook Islands from COVID-19.

May God continue to bless us all.

Kia orana tatou katoatoa, e kia manuia.

Hon Mark Brown
Prime Minister