Cook Islands’ 18-month dengue “epidemic” is definitely on the decline, says health ministry Te Marae Ora, but it’s too early to declare victory.
Since the outbreak was declared at the start of 2019, there have been 334 cases diagnosed.
March alone recorded 101 dengue cases. And with the Covid pandemic hitting other parts of the world, the country’s Secretary of Health Dr Josephine Aumea Herman set a steep challenge for her public health team: to wipe out dengue in two weeks.
She left the health team with this task before departing for New Zealand seven weeks ago; she is expected to return on the first quarantine-free flight back on June 19.
“The number of probable dengue cases has dropped and Public Health has just completed a second round of the spraying programme, covering all the 10 punas on Rarotonga,” a Te Marae Ora spokesperson said.
“In addition, the punas have done a great job cleaning area that have been vacant for many years and this also have played a major part in the control of mosquitoes breeding places.”
Latest numbers show a total of 57 cases recorded in April, and a further decline in May when just 36 cases were reported, as well as a case in New Zealand of someone who had travelled from Cook Islands.
One of the May cases is confirmed by lab testing, the others are categorised as probable cases.
Te Marae Ora is encouraging the community to continue the good work that they are doing, as this would also help stop dengue spreading to the Pa Enua.
The ministry has recommended those travelling to the Pa Enua to ring Tupapa Clinic for a medical clearance prior to travel, and there will be a nurse at the airport doing temperature checks on all outer islands travellers as an extra precaution.