Community members are urging Te Marae Ora to up their game and keep the people fully informed, especially those who are at the coalface of the quarantine management process for returnees.
Prior to the arrival of 66 passengers last week, Te Marae Ora spokesperson Jaewynn McKay said if Te Marae Ora didn’t think there was minimal risk, the people would not be coming in.
The health ministry was due to confirm details of a 24/7 monitoring plan for households in quarantine yesterday.
With another 25-30 passengers due back on Rarotonga tomorrow, Opposition Health spokesperson Sel Napa says the health ministry has to constantly reinforce its message to the public and use every avenue available, especially after the disclosure of an “unintentional” quarantine breach over the weekend
“Intermittent Ministry of Health press releases that are bulk emailed to us MPs and don’t even include the puna that are responsible for managing all those people in the different quarantine residences all around Rarotonga, just doesn’t cut it,” Napa said.
“It’s not delivering the important information from the Ministry of Health to the very people who need that information, our puna. The puna are the priority to receive regular updates from Health.”
It also needs to be made absolutely clear to families and friends of people undergoing quarantine to stay away from quarantine residences, Napa said.
“There have been cases where families have had to be told to stop dropping off supplies onto the verandahs of quarantine homes and to remain a clear distance from these residences,” she said.
People also need to be told they can’t uplift any goods from those in quarantine.
“This is what the Ministry of Health should be advising our communities, saturate the media, get these precautions on radio and TV and keep broadcasting these notices – this should have been done from the very beginning,” Napa said.
“The message has to be sent home to everyone and repeated – don’t break the quarantine.”
Te Puka Estate owner Phillip Nordt said he sent a proposal to Te Marae Ora about using his premises – that can accommodate a group of up to 20 people – as a quarantine facility but he never heard back from them.
“Our estate would be perfect – it is isolated so people would be in one place away from the rest of the community,” he said.
“To be honest, the quarantine process like the one in place at the moment makes me really nervous.”
Te Tuhi Kelly from the Progressive Party of the Cook Islands said the Ministry of Health is “woefully underprepared” for opening the country’s borders up.
“I say this with no rancour or blame, despite all the rhetoric to the contrary, they are, were and will be under-prepared for opening up our borders again,” he said.
“Why? It is a mindset of are we serious or are we playing at being serious. Are we 110 per cent in readiness and have we covered all our bases in terms of what we need to do to protect and defend our people and our economy.”