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LETTERS: Covid hospitalisation and death

Tuesday 29 March 2022 | Written by Supplied | Published in Letters to the Editor, Opinion


LETTERS: Covid hospitalisation and death

Dear Editor, let’s create an Independent Public Covid Watch Group.

Reading yesterday’s Cook Islands News (28.3.22) about our first confirmed Covid death is worrying. It was bounced around by Government officials clearly trying to shift the cause of death to anything but Covid is frightening. Even Bob William’s ineffective swipe added to the dust cloud of doubt.

Three elderly people have passed away in Rarotonga in the past few weeks, can the true cause of death be verified? Can the death certificates be double checked?

Experience shows public servants and Government employed health professionals are the easiest to manipulate by bullying politicians. The stench of active misinformation about Covid hospitalisation and more possible deaths is spreading gradually. Yes, it’s election year, so keep the Covid death count down, it looks bad for Mark Brown and his team otherwise.

We suggest the setting up of a Special Public Covid Watch Group, independent of Government and made up of retired doctors, nurses, laboratory technicians and skilled volunteers. 

Please, all hands on deck, don’t just watch, write in to give this idea your support. God bless and save the people of the Cook Islands. 

Cook Islands Lives Matter

(Name and address supplied)

Reply – Te Marae Ora reconfirms the fact, as reported, that no one to date has died of Covid in the Cook Islands. Comorbidities were contributing factors to the death of an elderly male who passed away on Saturday. He was Covid positive when he died, but the cause of death was another disease. Patient confidentiality prevents any further comment.

Te Marae Ora has engaged a clinical team consisting of active and qualified resident and overseas clinicians to examine these cases and processes. It was not unexpected that people like “Cook Islands Lives Matter” would make the claims and assumptions they have made. It was also not unexpected and was discussed during the public consultations Te Marae Ora held late last year, that we should expect some people to be severely affected by Covid, but we are not at that stage yet.

The government has not in any way influenced Te Marae Ora officials to do anything other than report the facts, and, to suggest otherwise is offensive to the hardworking health workforce and is an example of “active misinformation”, the very thing this letter writer appears to rally against. 

Bob Williams

Secretary of Health


GM Huggert on 29/03/2022

Special Public Covid Watch Group 👍

Heather Worth on 29/03/2022

Dear Editor In response to the Letter to the Editor of 28 March calling for an independent COVID watch group: the author claims that there have been three deaths of elderly people this week in the Cook Islands and implies that these may be COVID-related. But three deaths per week is quite normal in the Cook Islands. The Ministry of Finance and Economic Management’s June 2020 quarter statistical bulletin indicates that there were on average 3 deaths per week in that period. In a pandemic it is easy to claim that governments are hiding truths from their citizens about deaths from COVID. Partly, this is due to a growing lack of trust, globally, in authorities, but also to the profusion of misinformation and disinformation that circulates freely though social media. But in New Zealand, for example, the morality rate has fallen during COVID. This is because there has been zero flu and pneumonia in 2020 and 2021 (a major contributor to deaths in the elderly), and was due to mask wearing, increased social distancing, better hand hygiene and lockdowns. Other contributing factors to lower death may be less air pollution and fewer cars and major transport accidents. I have only been in the Cook Islands a short time but have been extremely impressed by the way Te Marae Ora (with limited resources), the government and the public has responded to the epidemic – high vaccination rates, good response to testing calls, mask wearing. The Prime Minister’s video conferences are calm, with a lack of blame or fearmongering. In my opinion, the Cooks will come out of the COVID epidemic as a success story Heather Worth, Professor Global Health Director , Cook Islands Centre for Research, University of the South Pacific