Secretary of Health Bob Williams. RYAN ANDERSON/STUFF/21081919
Covid-19 case numbers are climbing in Manihiki and Rakahanga, but Te Marae Ora acknowledges some of the cases were not disclosed until days after they were detected by health staff.
According to the Cook Islands Covid-19 webpage, as of last night, there had been 38 reported cases of Covid-19 in Manihiki, and 11 in Rakahanga.
On Thursday evening, TMO issued a suite of health orders for the two islands, including compulsory wearing of masks in public places, restrictions on gathering sizes and requiring a negative RAT test before participating in contact sports.
At the moment, the order is set to remain in force until September 23, although this could change.
The health orders arrive just as TMO looks to relax health orders on Mangaia, which has reported 218 cases of Covid-19 since August 1, but whose daily case numbers have been trending downwards.
Secretary of Health Bob Williams said the Manihiki Island Government had worked with TMO to ensure the regulations were being met.
Williams also confirmed that a nurse did not disclose a positive case of Covid-19 until a few days after it was recorded.
“The situation was kept in silence,” Williams said.
Williams confirmed the nurse was sent back to Rarotonga, while TMO were implementing a new team on Manihiki.
He admitted to Cook Islands News that he found the whole situation “concerning”.
Meanwhile, in Rakahanga, the island council was urging residents to stay at home unless they have to make essential trips.
“It’s crucial that those who have Covid-19 isolate to protect themselves and others,” Rakahanga resident Toka Hagai said.
“The island council has been very firm in its messaging, and we have been very lucky that we have a police officer in charge of checking up on the isolating families.”
Hagai said there were quite a few people in Rakahanga who were “very frightened” about getting Covid-19.
“You can see the fear in their eyes,” he said. “So it’s important that we all stick to the rules.”
Hagai said in recent weeks, there had been a lot of people on the island visiting the health centre because they had a bad case of the flu.
“It’s turned out that some of those people actually had Covid-19,” he said.
Hagai said he understood that the first case of Covid-19 on the island of Rakahanga was someone from Manihiki.
According to the Cook Islands Covid-19 webpage, since the pandemic began, there have been 6209 cases of Covid-19, with 74 of those cases still active.