The call follows questions raised by CI News regarding the effectiveness of the Ministry of Health and the Tourism Corporation’s efforts to spread the word that the Cook Islands remains unaffected by Zika.
A CI News staff member who recently holidayed in New Zealand said he had been approached by several would-be visitors with questions about the possibility of contracting mosquito borne diseases in this country.
One woman said she was considering cancelling her family holiday in Rarotonga this year, because she had read that Zika was spreading throughout the Pacific.
But Cook Islands Tourism sales and marketing director, Karla Eggleton said the corporation’s overseas representatives had been continuously updated about the issue.
The corporation’s sales ambassador was in New Zealand meeting with travel agents, providing them with the latest information about Zika and other mosquito-borne diseases, she said.
Tourism was making strenuous efforts to ensure that intending travellers knew the Cook Islands was doing everything it could to prevent the introduction of Zika, Eggleton said.
An earlier statement from Community Health Services advised people to take sensible precautions.
“In 2014 there was an outbreak of the Zika virus in the Cook Islands, but since then, no further cases have been reported,” the statement said.
“But we should not be complacent as Zika virus is still being reported in Samoa.”
The statement said Zika had dropped out of media attention since Cyclone Winston had devastated Fiji late last month.
“But the message still remains – keep Zika and mosquito-borne diseases out.”
Travellers should report to Rarotonga hospital if they developed symptoms during their stay in the Cook Islands, the statement said.
Health Services staff are also encouraging both locals and visitors to wear clothes that cover as much of the body as possible and destroy mosquitos breeding places.
Zika was last reported in the Cook Islands back in 2014.
- Atasa Moceituba