Staff from Raro Tours ready to assist the returnees with transportation to their pre-arranged places of quarantine on Friday. EMMANUEL SAMOGLOU/20091162
A Rarotonga woman has been ordered into compulsory supervised quarantine after receiving two packets of cigarettes from her nephew, a returning Cook Islander who arrived on Friday’s flight.
Secretary of Health Dr Josephine Aumea Herman said the man was briefed “that no items could leave his possession until he had completed his two weeks supervised quarantine process”.
The briefing was done enroute from Rarotonga airport to his residence by the public health nurse assigned to his puna, Dr Herman said.
“Prior to travel, every passenger receives the Questions and Answers for Travellers to Rarotonga document as well as the Category Quarantine Order,” Dr Herman said.
“These documents provide clear advice regarding the rules of supervised quarantine. On arrival a print copy of the Q&A is provided to each household.”
She said quarantine orders were served on Friday.
“While the public health risk is considered low, precautionary measures are necessary to ensure the safety of the public.”
This is the second breach after a Rarotonga man had unauthorised close contact with one of the people who returned from Auckland a week ago. The man and his entire family were ordered into two weeks quarantine.
With the expectation of more flights bringing in more people, Opposition Health spokesperson Sel Napa says the health ministry has to have a robust measure in place to protect the country from Covid-19.
“To call it proper 24/7 supervised, managed quarantine is misleading because that can’t be achieved when arrivals are scattered all over the island in different private homes.”
Napa also said the health ministry should stop warning about the fines that could be imposed for quarantine breaches “unless they are serious about this”.
Penalties for any breach of quarantine will result in a maximum of 12 months imprisonment or a $10,000 fine, the Government earlier announced.
“So far, the Health ministry hasn’t shown us that it is serious and fined the two recent breaches. Health described the first breach as ‘unintentional’ and this sends our community mixed messages. Someone can breach quarantine, then say they didn’t mean to, it was unintentional and there are no repercussions. Do we then expect all breaches to be unintentional? What’s the point in having fines? Napa questioned.
“Hundreds of our Pa Enua are coming here next month for the Cook Islands Games and will be in Rarotonga for over a week. We know how vulnerable our Pa Enua are, even more so than Rarotonga. What plan does Te Marae Ora have in place for the duration of the Games? Will there be an awareness programme saturating the media, making sure the message reaches everyone, here and in our Pa Enua? “
With the two flights that have arrived, the health ministry said there were 122 people undertaking supervised quarantine on Rarotonga.
“Next week Friday, all 82 persons from the first cohort will hopefully exit this process having completed their 14 days of supervised quarantine, two negative Covid-19 tests and medical clearance.
“Te Marae Ora and other government officials are reviewing the supervised quarantine process to find ways to further minimise the public health risks to the community given recent breaches.”
The ministry also said there have been numerous rumours of people breaching quarantine – all that have been reported to Te Marae Ora have been investigated and confirmed as unfounded rumours.