Covid-19? Just flag it

Tuesday March 31, 2020 Written by Published in Health
Chairman Ina Tararo and the coded coloured flags provided by Health, at the Ngatangiia Puna centre, set up at the Avana meeting house. 20033008 Chairman Ina Tararo and the coded coloured flags provided by Health, at the Ngatangiia Puna centre, set up at the Avana meeting house. 20033008

First things first: Those aren’t red flags you see on the main road. They’re just dark orange. There are still no confirmed Covid-19 cases in Cook Islands, so there should be no red flags.

There are plenty of yellow flags though, to show someone is self-quarantining, the occasional white to indicate someone needs help, and a fair few orange flags to signify a household with someone who is elderly or at high risk.

The Murienua Puna disaster centre purchased orange fabric to sew their own flags, and have distributed 40 of them around their area on the west of the island.

“We knew Te Marae Ora had enough on their hands to deal with, so we took on the initiative and so got our own, with the support of others,” said emergency operations centre communicator Diana Ahsin.

“Instead of pressuring Te Marae Ora, we got on with it.”

Yellow and orange flags are being flown around Rarotonga, to alert people to Covid-19 vulnerability and quarantine.

Understanding the difference between a white, red, orange or yellow flag is important. The colour-coded flag system was developed by Te Marae Orato communicate to the public important health messages and awareness of the COVID-19 health risks in the community.

Each respective puna is tasked with the set-up of the flag alerts at particular homes. – Melina Etches

Orange: The household has someone who is elderly or high risk – for example, they may have a non-communicable disease. Show you care by staying away.

Older people are more likely to have underlying health issues that make them more vulnerable to COVID-19, so it is especially important to follow the rules.

Yellow: The house is under supervised quarantine. Someone inside may have been exposed to Covid-19. No visitors are permitted to a quarantined house.

Quarantine separates people from others and restricts their movement if they have been exposed to an infectious disease, such as Covid-19, to see if they become sick.

Red: Indicates a person in the household has a confirmed case of Covid-19. The house is under supervised isolation. It is critical you stay away.

Isolation separates sick people with a contagious disease, such as Covid-19, from people who are not sick. 

White: Signals medical attention is required. If someone in your house needs a doctor or nurse, call your local puna on the free call number and place a white coloured cloth somewhere visible from the road; it will help us find your house quickly.

The 0800 free call puna numbers are:

·         Tupapa-Maraerenga 0800 1803

·         Takuvaine-Tutakimoa 0800 1804

·         RAPA 0800 1805

·         Nikao-Panama 0800 1806

·         Ruaau 1800 1807

·         Akaoa 0800 1808

·         Murienua 0800 1809

·         Titikaveka 0800 1810

·         Ngatangiia 0800 1812

·         Matavera 0800 1813

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