With a traveller from the Cook Islands in quarantine in Western Australia, the Opposition is re-iterating its call for a nation-wide vaccination programme before a bubble is established with New Zealand.
A traveller from the Cook Islands who breached
the trans-Tasman bubble on Thursday has been placed in a quarantine hotel
facility in Perth, Australia.
After departing Rarotonga earlier this week,
the female traveller flew to Perth via Auckland, but did not fulfil a bubble
requirement of staying at least 14 days in New Zealand before transiting to
Western Australia’s Department of Health said
the woman will undergo a Covid-19 test while in quarantine.
Citing the Cook Islands’ Covid-19-free status,
the health department said it is “very unlikely” the woman could have Covid-19,
and will publicly report her test result.
The remaining passengers on the flight were
allowed to disembark and were processed in the usual way, the health department
The breach occurs while many speculate an
impending announcement by the Cook Islands and New Zealand governments on a
firm date for two-way quarantine free travel to begin between the two
While many working in the beleaguered tourism
industry are desperate for the bubble, the Opposition Democratic Party said the
trans-Tasman breach highlighted the need for vaccinations to be carried out
before two-way quarantine-free travel is established.
“What is very concerning is the fact that a
person was able to get through and travel directly to Australia – what
assurances do we have that the same won’t happen in reverse?” asked Opposition
leader Tina Pupuke Browne.
“This further emphasises why the vaccine
roll-out needs to happen here now.”
A Cook Islands government spokesperson said
procedures have been in place since one-way quarantine free travel to New
Zealand was established in January this year to jointly enforce travel
restrictions with New Zealand officials.
“There is an ongoing commitment between Cook
Islands Immigration officials and their NZ counterparts to continue to enhance
existing protocols to mitigate such instances from occurring,” the spokesperson
Any traveller who fails to truthfully answer
questions by government officials can face a fine or imprisonment under Cook
Islands law, the spokesperson added.
Last month during his visit to New Zealand,
Prime Minister Mark Brown said he was aiming for a vaccine rollout in May,
while targeting May 1 for the country to have all systems in place for the
travel bubble with New Zealand.
Since the PM’s visit, the Democratic Party has
been steadfast in its call for nation-wide vaccinations before borders are
“Our people must have the protection of being
vaccinated because our population is so vulnerable,” said Browne.
“Neglecting to roll-out the vaccine here
before two-way travel is putting our people at huge risk and completely
irresponsible,” she said.
PM Brown has requested the New Zealand
government to supply Pfizer vaccines for an estimated 17,000 residents in the