The Ministry of Health has ordered extensive puna clean-up programmes to deter the spread of dengue after a record number cases last month.
In March alone there were 101 cases of the virus, which is spread by mosquitos.
And as of yesterday, there has been a suspected dengue case in the Titikaveka puna and one probable case in Ngatangiia. Four people are still in hospital recovering from dengue. So far this month there have been 14 cases.
Dengue cases in Rarotonga have increased to 237, while Aitutaki is the only outer island that has about five cases. From January 28, 2019 to April 6 this year, there has been a total of 242 cases, this includes probable cases.
The Ministry of Health’s intervention programme has been affected by the frequent heavy rain experienced in the Cook Islands.
The ministry says almost every second day rain on Rarotonga has made it impossible for peri-focal spraying, adding it will be more impossible if the current rainy weather conditions continue.
However, for Aitutaki, ongoing mosquito control activities have continued.
Minister for Internal Affairs Mac Mokoroa reminded people that dengue cases are on the rise and says the focus from today is to start cleaning up
“There are many cases coming up, so there is a strong encouragement to get all homes tidied and cleared up.”
He said the punas would also be monitoring their areas ensuring everyone is keeping their compounds clean.
Shadow Health Minister and Opposition MP Selina Napa also reiterated the urgent need for home and landowners to keep their properties clear of mosquito breeding areas.
Napa said with no Covid-19 in the country and Te Marae Ora doing all it can to prevent its spread in the Cook Islands, she is urging everyone to be mindful that dengue fever is present and is accelerating.
“We’ve got to be proactive, please take the time to keep your properties free of mosquito breeding areas. If dengue is on the rise in Rarotonga, then it means we need to do more, to take more responsibility for our homes and sections of land.”
Operation Namu clean up began yesterday and continues today for the Tupapa, Ngatangiia, Matavera, Murienua and the Takuvaine-Tutakimoa areas.
They continue tomorrow for the RAPA and Titikaveka areas and on the following Tuesday April 14 for Akaoa, Ruaau and Niako, Panama.
The dengue outbreak of DENV-1 was confirmed on February 27 last year after seven cases were confirmed.
A further 46 cases in Rarotonga were DENV-1 and 9 were DENV-2. In Aitutaki, three were DENV-1 and 2 were DENV-2.
Fifty-nine people have been admitted and discharged from the hospital so far. And the ages range from three to 84 years.