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Resorts struggling to get enough Rapid Antigen Tests to meet demand

Friday 11 March 2022 | Written by Matthew Littlewood | Published in Business, National


Resorts struggling to get enough Rapid Antigen Tests to meet demand
The Rarotongan managing director Tata Crocombe. PHOTO: CI NEWS/20032050

Cook Islands resorts are scrambling to get enough Rapid Antigen Tests to meet the demand of visitors to arrive in the islands in the coming weeks, but health authorities are confident sufficient supplies will be available.

The news comes after Health secretary Bob Williams told Cook Islands News on Wednesday that Covid-19 case numbers could peak within the next three to six weeks.

Owner of The Rarotongan Resort, Tata Crocombe said it had been a struggle sourcing RAT tests, but “that’s not indicative of a failure on anyone’s part”.

“It’s hard to source them internationally, we had to get them commercially from New Zealand. It’s certainly not peanuts we’ve been paying for them,” he said, adding it would have cost the resort about $20,000 to have sufficient supplies.

“We’re expecting occupancy rates to increase considerably as we head into April and with that comes greater risk of Covid. We feel we’ve sourced enough RAT tests to cope with the expected influx,” Crocombe said.

Crocombe said it had 17 staff who were trained to administer RAT tests on the site.

On Wednesday, Tamanu Beach Resort general manager Nick Henry expressed concern about access to RAT testing kits and Personal Protective Equipment.

Tourism Industry Council president Liana Scott said supply had not been the issue so much as the cost of sourcing the kits.

“The kits cost money and in times of a cash-strapped economy, businesses are very wary of spend,” said Scott, who is also the general manager of the Muri Beach Club Hotel.

Scott said to encourage testing, businesses should be given sufficient stock without cost.

Public Health Advisor Dr Douglas Lush said he was confident that Te Marae Ora had sourced enough RAT testing kits to meet the demand.

“We had broad contingencies for a large outbreak – one that could affect half the population,” Lush said.

“We did the modelling early on the piece, and we’re well prepared. We have a good idea of how many cases we are expected to get.”

Lush was unable to give figures of how many RAT tests kits had been ordered, but said it had been receiving them regularly.

“There has been no issue in terms of access.”

Cook Islands Tourism director of destination and development Christian Mani said since January, it had held more than 26 training sessions and trained up to 465 people to be qualified in administering RAT tests.

“As demand increases, we’ll put on more sessions,” Mani said.

“I think we are pretty optimistic that we will be able to meet the demand for testing.”

Mani said Cook Islands Tourism had also been assisting businesses in the distribution of RAT testing kits.

If a person tested positive, then the result would be sent to Te Marae Ora. Tourists who test positive by an RAT test are immediately classified as cases and there is no need for them to be re-tested by PCR.