Even with long lines and crowded spaces, the vaccination process went smoothly for Rarotonga’s 12 to 15 year population yesterday. ALANA MUSSELLE/21100821
We must learn to live with this virus, like we do with the hurricane season, and equip and prepare our health response and our bodies, but more our hearts and minds because it is there we will truly win this battle, writes Thomas Tarurongo Wynne.
I remember the siren went
off, I cleared my office as kids jumped on their bikes and quickly made their
Trucks filled with students
as cyclone sirens wailed across the island. And as I drove through town, giant
boards went up over seafront businesses and buildings prepared to face the
walls of water and sea surge, should that happen.
We were prepared, because
the only thing that can save us in a disaster is our preparation for it, and
especially when we know it’s coming.
A study done on hurricanes
in the Cook Islands made this important statement – historical records of
natural hazard impacts are an important tool for disaster preparedness.
If we can see where we
have been and patterns that have developed, it helps in our preparedness for
natural disasters or any disaster be they weather, political, human tragedy, or
a virus that rages across the globe.
Because although we have
often been missed by cyclones, we know that sadly in 1997 Cyclone Matini in
Manihiki left a deadly trail, and Cyclone Pat in Aitutaki in 2010 caused
As a country we have
never imagined that cyclones will not happen because history teaches us
We do not imagine that
locking down our island will prevent us from a hurricane reaching us; instead
we have done all we can to prepare for its arrival and prepare for the
destruction it may bring.
And with the hurricane
that is the coronavirus, I ask what are we doing to prepare for its hitting our
Imagining it won’t, and
closing our country down to prevent it arriving, comes with its own costs and
challenges, because eventually we must open to the world again for economic and
social reasons and instead learn to live with it.
The vaccine, which for
the Cook Islands has been a huge success with the delivery of vaccines for
every man, woman and child made possible by the New Zealand government in July,
has seen over 96 per cent of our adult population fully vaccinated. The roll
out for 12 to 15 year olds has just started.
But if we think
vaccination alone will deter Covid-19 from touching our shores then maybe we
should consider these two very critical questions and answers from the New Zealand
Covid 19 website.
Can I still get Covid-19
after I have received the vaccine? Getting two doses of the Pfizer vaccine
means you are much less likely to catch Covid-19, including the Delta variant. As
with any vaccine, the Pfizer vaccine may not fully protect everyone who gets
However, if you do catch
Covid-19, the vaccine will give you a high degree of protection from serious
illness. This means you could have no Covid-19 symptoms, or will have much
fewer, milder symptoms, and recover faster, and something we have seen here in
New Zealand with the clusters in South Auckland having so few hospitalised who
were already vaccinated, and those hospitalised more often not vaccinated at
Can you pass Covid-19
onto other people if you are vaccinated? We know it is a lot harder for the
virus to spread between people who are vaccinated. To be safe, however, we must
assume there is still a risk of transmission.
This is why it is
important to continue taking extra safety measures, such as wearing a mask and
washing your hands regularly, even after you have been vaccinated.
If we take a siege
mentality to our homeland and believe that we will never encounter Covid-19
simply because we are vaccinated, then this needs to be challenged.
Yes, vaccination is a critical
and key preparedness and one I completely believe we must do for ourselves, our
communities and our country.
But let us not then think
that all is done because we are vaccinated because preparedness must also
involve pouring more resources, money, human resources and health expertise than
we have ever done before if we are to open the borders again to the world.
Like a hurricane or cyclone,
we cannot prevent its arrival, but what we can do is prepare for its waves to
hit our shores and protect our people.
Ask the nearly 360 people
who endured a lockdown last year what that feels like, and the 350 who are
about to join them with the first 90 home from Christchurch now isolating at
the Edgewater Resort.
We must learn to live with
this virus, like we do with the hurricane season, and equip and prepare our
health response and our bodies, but more our hearts and minds because it is
there we will truly win this battle.
i think if the cook island government sat down properly and thought more they could open now been opened weeks ago
vaccinated only visitors
pre departure covid screening
7 day covid monitoring
restrict flights to1 -2 a week
the population is vaccinated and ready to make their lives normal again do it open the door why not
Lou S on 09/10/2021
Do you think it's likely Cook Islands might open to Australia before NZ?