Golden Oldie netball mamas stranded in New Zealand will be first to enter supervised quarantine in Auckland starting today.
Government officials have begun contacting people who have registered to travel to Rarotonga. The first cohort will be shifted to a managed isolation facility, believed to be the Holiday Inn in Mangere, for 14 days.
Among them are the 38 members of the Golden Oldie Mamas netball squad who have been self-isolating at a hostel in Mangere. Last night they were preparing for their move.
But some Cook Islanders say it’s too much – that another four weeks on top of the time they’ve already done in isolation will be traumatic. Towards the end of two week quarantine, the returning residents will undergo a Covid-19 test before being allowed to fly to Rarotonga.
On arrival in Rarotonga, the travellers will be required to undergo a further two weeks of supervised quarantine in a disused resort, and another Covid-19 test, before being allowed back into the community at large.
University student Hareta Tiraa Passfield, one of the Cook Islanders stranded in Auckland, said she won’t be taking part in the four weeks quarantine.
“It will mentally affect me being locked up in a room for another two weeks here. I have already spent four weeks stuck in a lockdown, now I will be required to do another two weeks in supervised quarantine here and then in the Cook Islands. This is utterly ridiculous to me. I have decided not to do this.”
She says it will take six weeks from now for the third and final lot of residents to get through supervised quarantine in Auckland. Passfield hopes by then, the Cook Islands borders will reopen for New Zealand visitors.
The government says Cook Islands is one of only a handful of countries free from the virus and is determined to keep it out.
Secretary of Health Dr Josephine Aumea Herman, is in New Zealand to oversee the process.
“I appreciate that some people have become frustrated waiting for the opportunity to return home,” she said.
“But I hope they also realise that back home the whole country has been working very hard to ensure that our people have a safe place to return to.”
The first repatriation flight is scheduled to arriving in Rarotonga on Friday, May 8. There are two flights planned.