“Australians who are here on holiday, it’s time to go home.”
That’s the message from Dr Christopher Watkins, the first resident Australian High Commissioner to Cook Islands.
Dr Watkins, who arrived into the country a week ago, said they do not want visiting Australians to put pressure on the health system here.
“We want the health system here to be dedicated to long term residents,” he said.
“There are some Australians who have lived here for long term, that’s a different question, they are part of the community but those Australians who are visiting, we think it’s time to go home on the next available flight.”
Dr Watkins said he had been spending a lot of time at the Rarotonga airport, assisting Australians returning home.
“It’s difficult because a lot of people are trying to fit in not many flights so I was helping them.”
Dr Watkins also said Australia would be supporting the Cook Islands wherever it can in support for direct outbreak preparedness and response, broader health institutions and systems and broader economic impacts and recovery.
He hailed the “fantastic leadership” shown by the Prime Minister Henry Puna and his government, especially in delivery the multi-million dollar coronavirus economic recovery package.