The Cook Islands government has announced that it has agreed to allow Cook Islanders in New Zealand to return home, if they follow a routine of self-isolation here in Rarotonga for two weeks. This decision is fraught with the real danger of allowing Covid-19 to enter the Cook Islands.
First, the people here have become complacent in the last few months. Some of the dos and don’ts in the current emergency regime we are in, is not been followed at all.
Second, our punas who were working very well when they were originally set up, are no longer running as efficiently and professionally as they were.
Third, expecting our families in self isolation to be as careful and to follow rules like those who were isolated in hotels and were strictly supervised, is a real stretch!
Fourth, what if those arriving cannot be isolated by themselves and their families have to be isolated with them. The pressure on these families is multiplied many times more.
A friend and his wife, who arrived here on one of the last two flights before the recent closure, told me of their experience. They were supposed to go into self-isolation here. But when they arrived, no official met them at the airport. They went home by taxi and officials only met them the next day. When they needed bread they were told to go themselves to the shop because no one was at the puna to get bread for them.
If we are to allow self-isolation, monitoring and supporting these people needs to be much more intense than what was done at the Edgewater Resort. Police and even neighbours need to be involved in ensuring that the rules of isolation are strictly adhered to.
Why not hire a cheaper hotel and ask those in isolation to pay part of their isolation cost, like $50 a day? This way we have a much secure way of ensuring the country’s protection from Covid-19!