Three arrivals on last Friday's flight were placed in supervised quarantine by health officials. (Photo: Losirene Lacanivalu)
The placing of three arrivals in supervised quarantine on Friday has prompted the Opposition to renew its calls for mandatory supervised quarantine for all incoming international visitors.
Two arrivals on Friday were placed in supervised quarantine after being classified by health officials as "casual contacts" with a recently identified Covid-19 case in Auckland.
Cook Islands and New Zealand health officials made the connection before Friday’s Air New Zealand flight departed Auckland, but the two were already on board the aircraft, said Te Marae Ora Ministry of Health spokesperson Jaewynn McKay.
The passengers were permitted to travel as Cook Islands health authorities had yet to consult with their NZ counterparts, she added.
According to NZ's Ministry of Health, "casual contacts" differ from "close contacts" as they have been determined to be at a lower risk of transmitting the virus.
officials acquired details about the two individuals after an email was sent to
all passengers, requesting them to disclose their recent movements in
Auckland’s central business district (CBD). That was when it was discovered the
two passengers had visited a venue that the recently identified Covid-19 case
in Auckland had also visited.
individual, who was seated next to one of the identified passengers, has also
been placed in supervised quarantine, according to a statement from Te Marae
Ora Ministry of Health.
privacy concerns, a ministry spokesperson said they would not disclose the
venue in question.
between Health secretary Dr Aumea Herman and her New Zealand Ministry of Health
counterparts determined the “public health risk was at the lower end”, but as a
precautionary measure, the passengers should be placed in supervised quarantine
for up to 14 days.
the unfolding situation in Auckland we are taking precautionary measures, to
mitigate the public health risk to the people of the Cook Islands,” said Dr
Herman. Despite the health ministry’s reassurance, the Opposition Democratic
Party repeated its call for the Government to reinstate the requirement for 14
days of mandatory supervised quarantine for all incoming international
Health spokesperson Sel Napa said: “We may have been very, very lucky this
time, but we will know for sure by the end of the quarantine period. We may not
be so lucky next time.”
staff have to be congratulated for responding quickly and handling this matter
so efficiently. But all this could have been avoided if we had stuck to our
been saying over and over again, our people come first, prioritise our people,
it’s about our people…not dollars. But the PM doesn’t seem to be listening to
this or the cry of our iti tangata to bring back quarantine because there’s
just too much at risk. Does he think that money is more important than our
A New Zealand Government official greets his Cook Islands counterpart at Rarotonga International Airport yesterday. NZ officials are in the country for an inspection with the goal of confirming a safe travel bubble between the two countries. (Photo: Losirene Lacanivalu 20111316).
current entry requirements, all passengers arriving on the flight had earlier
produced negative Covid-19 tests results prior to departure.
arrival in Rarotonga, the 58 passengers were briefed on the situation by a Te
Marae Ora doctor, who informed them that they would have to undergo a Covid-19
swab test as a precautionary measure. They have also been asked to wear face
masks in public. As of last night, the returned swab tests showed negative
Follow up tests will be undertaken by health officials in the coming days. As of Friday evening, there were a total of four community Covid-19 cases in New Zealand according to the Ministry of Health, including a woman in her 20s who was confirmed to have contracted the virus this week.
With the uptick in community cases in NZ, Te Marae Ora
has begun contacting 70 passengers who recently arrived in Rarotonga on the
previous two weekly flights to undergo testing for the virus.
Health spokesperson Jaewynn McKay last night said of the 70
returnees, 52 tests have come back negative while results for 18 was pending.
There is currently
no quarantine requirement for incoming arrivals to the Cook Islands.
Te Marae Ora is urging the public to maintain physical
distancing and practice personal hygiene, and any individuals feeling unwell
are asked to stay home or contact health authorities if experiencing
The Health ministry is also asking the public to track their movements with contact tracing app, CookSafe.
NOTE - This story includes a clarification from the version appearing in Saturday's print edition of CI News. Local officials are describing the two passengers in quarantine as "casual contacts" of the confirmed Covid-19 community case in Auckland this week. NZ's Ministry of Health describes casual contacts as those having a lower public health risk than "close contacts". More details can be found here.