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Six Covid-19 tests come back negative

Wednesday 18 March 2020 | Written by Losirene Lacanivalu | Published in Health


Six Covid-19 tests come back negative
Secretary of Health Dr Josephine Herman told tourism leaders they feared 150 to 200 deaths in Rarotonga.

The first six travellers tested for Covid-19 in Cook Islands have all been cleared, in a rare piece of good news.

Te Marae Ora estimates 150 to 200 people could die from Covid-19 in Rarotonga.

Secretary of Health Dr Josephine Herman revealed the grim scenario to a tourism leaders meeting yesterday, attended by nearly 200 people.

But, she said, authorities were aiming for zero deaths.

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“If we assume the population is 15,000, take the pa enua out, 10,000 remain then the case fatality rate is 1-2 percent which is 150 to 200 deaths.

“For us we try to bring it down to 0.1 per cent and aim for zero deaths,” she said. “We will see the number between 150 and 200 people will die if nothing is done.”

Dr Herman said it must be assumed that the virus is already here and people can start behaving properly and practice social distancing in Rarotonga.

“We need to assume it’s here and behave properly and do the social distancing. We must send the message out clearly.”

Dr Herman said with this social distancing measures have been advised such as restricting gathering of more than 50 people, restrict large gathering involving singing and have suspended sporting, church and cultural events.

She said the school holidays have been moved forward to minimise students from staying in contact with other students.

Six mouth and nose swabs sent to New Zealand had returned negative, she said. The tests cost about $200 each, which is being paid for at the moment by the World Health Organization.

Dr Herman said at the moment tests are sent to Wellington and they are now working on sending the tests to Auckland to be more efficient or better still looking at purchasing test kits.

Dr Herman said there have been over than 200,000 confirmed cases and a total of more than 7500 death caused by the pandemic coronavirus Covid-19.

She said the concern was that Rarotonga did not have intensive care capabilities, which was why social distancing measures were so important.

The cough and flu clinic received four cases a day when it first opened. That soon increased to 30 cases a day, and then 75 cases a day, which Dr Herman said was the reason to shift to Tupapa.

The non-essential surgery and dental care were cancelled to free up medical capacity.