According to the latest update on the status of the mosquito-borne virus by the Ministry of Health, from May 18-24, the number of new cases has declined. Late last month, 33 cases were added to the total of 521 reported cases in the country so far this year. All 33 were recorded in Rarotonga.
The report shows the highest number of cases – 73 – was recorded three weeks ago.
Rarotonga tops the cases by island at 530, followed by Rakahanga on 19, Aitutaki on six and Manihiki on two.
The report also confirmed there had been no hospitalisations or deaths from Chikungunya. The other mosquito disease topping the list was what was simply described as a ‘dengue-like illness’. So far 527 cases have been reported.
Director of Community Health Services Dr Neti Herman said heightened awareness of the Chikungunya virus had helped decrease the number of cases in the Cook Islands. Members of the public had also taken advantage of the mosquito spraying campaign, she said.
Elderly people and infants were kept away during spraying time to avoid any complication to their health although the chemicals sprayed were scientifically proven to be environmentally friendly, she said.
“A lot of people came to us wanting their places to be sprayed. They realised the only way to do that was to report to us.
“In the last three weeks, the cases have been coming down and hopefully we will keep it that way.”
The current rainy spell is expected to increase the number of mosquito breeding grounds. The rain has also become a hindrance to the Ministry of Health carrying out its spraying campaign.
People have been advised to keep their surroundings clean and to destroy any mosquito breeding places they find, Dr Herman said.
“If we find people with mosquito breeding places around their homes, we will give them a warning and two weeks later we will visit them again. If we find the breeding sites have not destroyed, we will prosecute them.”
With a high number of visitors expected for the Cook Islands 50th anniversary celebration, the Ministry is working hard to wipe out the virus on the main islands.
It is printing flyers and posters and working on spraying hostels and schools which will accommodate the visitors for the upcoming festivals. “We printed 500 copies of the flyers which were given to the visitors coming into the country. Unfortunately we have run out of the flyers. The Cook Islands Tourism is helping us out on getting another 1000 copies printed.” Meanwhile, according to the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), the Chikungunya virus has now reached half of the Pacific Island countries and territories and is likely to continue spreading to other countries in the region and around the world.