Cook Islands Prime Minister, Mark Brown. PHOTO: SPREP/COOK ISLANDS GOVERNMENT
The Prime Minister and Secretary of Health say they were waiting for more information before they made the public announcement that a visitor tested positive to Covid-19.
late Friday night, the Ministry of Health in New Zealand advised the Cook
Islands Government that a flight that left Rarotonga on Monday, February 7, was
a place of interest – after a passenger on that flight tested positive for the
Omicron variant of Covid-19 after arriving back in New Zealand.
Government through Prime Minister Mark Brown made a public announcement around
1pm on Saturday.
has been subsequent criticism that the delay of the public announcement was too
a spokeswoman for the Prime Minister said: “The decision was taken to wait
until our people had a chance to meet and discuss the case in detail; the point
being to gather all the facts and provide accurate information once we’d done
will always fully inform our people about matters surrounding Covid-19. But
that information will be accurate, not necessarily rushed.”
spokeswoman, Jaewynn McKay said the person was probably infectious while in
Rarotonga and chose not to approach authorities to report their condition.
Instead, the person chose to return to New Zealand where they were tested
of health, Bob Williams said New Zealand had to investigate the case similar to
how it was done with the positive case in Rarotonga on Sunday.
“Having that information is
critical to our planning and there was no reason to rush into making an
announcement on Friday night apart from the Air NZ flight being listed as a
location of interest,” Williams said.
“We knew about the case Friday afternoon but
there was no need to go to the public because not much information was
“What are we going to tell people, there's a
case here, then what? That's why we needed to wait for information to come from
New Zealand so we could better inform people.”
He said they needed to inform people of the
locations of interest.
“They have to do a case investigation in New
Zealand once the case investigation is completed then we publish information.”
Speaking to Cook Islands News on Sunday night
the Titikaveka Puna Emergency Operation Centre
(EOC) coordinator Alistair Macquarie said he was appalled at the “unacceptable”
18-hour delay in Government’s public notice.
Macquarie, who first saw
the location of interest notice on the NZ Ministry of Health website on Friday
night, said: “A cautionary public message should have been put out to the
public that night (Friday) to keep the public vigilant, why wait 18 hours
later, what for… knowing that people would be at the markets in the morning
(Saturday) and out shopping.”
“The late notice to the
public is unacceptable and irresponsible, they (Government) have the
responsibility to get the message out to the public – they represent the
wellbeing and welfare of our people.”
McKay said on Tuesday
regarding people mixing in the market, that Te Marae Ora had told the public
they should be wearing masks in crowded places, practicing social distancing
and good hygine practices.
have known for some time that the Omicron variant is highly transmissible and
has defeated almost every other country in the world’s defences; and it has or
is likely to do the same here.”