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Government to consider relaxing Covid-19 isolating rules for essential workers

Thursday 17 March 2022 | Written by Matthew Littlewood | Published in Health, National

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Government to consider relaxing Covid-19 isolating rules for essential workers
A Rarotonga resident reads the sign – Office closed for 7 days due to Covid – pasted on the door of the DHL Rarotonga office. MATTHEW/22031630

Relaxation of Covid-19 isolating rules for essential workers in the Cook Islands could be coming shortly.

The country has recorded 536 Covid-19 cases so far, and as the number increases, Prime Minister Mark Brown noted the pressure it was placing on essential workers.

At the moment, all positive cases of Covid-19 in the Cook Islands have to isolate for seven days. Close contacts also have to isolate for a week.  

Brown said on Tuesday that the Government was “looking into ways in which we might be able to alleviate these pressures, especially with respect to those who are considered essential and frontline workers”.

A spokesman for the Prime Minister’s office said the decision-making process was ongoing and he would get more information today.

In New Zealand, close contacts who are essential workers are allowed to go into work. Under the scheme, they are only allowed to go to work —they cannot go anywhere else. When they are not at work, they must self-isolate.

It is not known whether the Cook Islands Government will follow a similar approach.

The Covid-19 pandemic has also affected freight services, with DHL Rarotonga admitting that they will not be able to fill their orders for the next week.

DHL Rarotonga operations manager Dwayne Marurai said the business would be closed for the next week, as two of its three staff had tested positive for Covid-19.

“We would like to apologise to our customers,” Marurai said. “We have advised our general manager in Fiji that they will be holding cargo in Auckland until next week.”

“We usually get cargo on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. There’s nothing we can do about it.

“We have been told to stay at home and as soon as we are given the all-clear we will return to work.”

Marurai said he could not give any detail as to the extent of the backlog as a result of this delay as it “changed every week”.