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Northern group island prepares for worst case Covid-19 scenario

Thursday 3 December 2020 | Written by CI News Staff | Published in National, Outer Islands

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Northern group island prepares for worst case Covid-19 scenario
PHOTO: CI NEWS. 14081410

Rakahanga is remaining resolute that its borders will be immediately closed and the island will remain isolated from the outside world, if a case of Covid-19 is confirmed on Rarotonga.

The people of Rakahanga will isolate themselves from the rest of the world, including Rarotonga, if a Covid-19 case is confirmed on the main island.

The decision was made by the Island Council in March this year and is supported by Rakahanga residents.

Rakahanga Member of Parliament Tina Browne, who is visiting her constituency this week, says the island fine-tuned their own Covid-19 response plan and had this ready to present to her at their first meeting.

“I’m so reassured at how proactive the Island Council and people have been, they have a good response plan and have made decisions that are very tough, these will be activated given whichever situation the island and neighbouring Manihiki happens to be in,” Browne said in a statement.

She said the Island Council remains wary after the 14-day quarantine was lifted in Rarotonga.

According to the Rakahanga response plan, Browne said the Island Council wants to see all international travellers arriving in Rarotonga to remain on the main island for a month before being permitted to fly or sail to Manihiki, the first port of call before travelling on to Rakahanga.

Browne said the Rakahanga community had prepared for the worst scenario, and identified an outlying motu with proper shelter and water supply to serve as a quarantine area for Rakahanga.

“They’ve covered everything in their plan, stockpiling the necessary medical supplies, staff to care for whomever is in quarantine, how food will be supplied, treating and disposing of medical waste and recognising medical staff will be under huge pressure during this time and providing all the support they need.

“Despite being so remote, the people of Rakahanga are prepared to initiate a response plan that will be very tough on them as well, with no inter-island supply boat allowed in, no ferry from Manihiki or visiting boats. I’m really very proud at how the Rakahanga community is willing to make sacrifices and put the lives of people first.

“The Island Council tell me that they and the wider community had no hesitation in formulating their strict response plan. As soon as Rarotonga registers its first Covid case, the Rakahanga plan gets activated, despite Rarotonga being over 1000 kilometres away. The Rakahanga border will be closed and that’s very decisive action.”