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Covid-19 numbers hit new peak in Rarotonga, Aitutaki

Wednesday 30 March 2022 | Written by Matthew Littlewood | Published in Health, National

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Covid-19 numbers hit new peak in Rarotonga, Aitutaki
Aitutaki's One Foot Island. PHOTO: COOK ISLANDS TOURISM.

Covid-19 has returned to Aitutaki just one day after all cases had recovered.

On Monday, there were seven new cases of Covid-19 in Aitutaki, while Rarotonga recorded its highest daily case number of 162 on the same day.

There have now been 1745 cases of Covid-19 in the Cook Islands, with 710 of those cases still active.

Aitutaki had only recently become Covid-19 free, with all five of its previous cases recovered.

Araura College principal Gaylyn Lockington said there wasn’t any panic in the Aitutaki community about the new cases.

“I think everyone just accepts the fact that Covid-19 was going to return in the community,” Lockington said.

“There’s no panic just yet, life goes on.”

Lockington said the community had “rallied behind” those affected with Covid-19, with people dropping off welfare packages at their doors.

“I think that shows how close our community is,” she said.

“If anything, it’s better to catch Covid-19 now rather than later on.

“If we all do what Te Marae Ora (TMO) asks of us, then we will be able to return back to normal.”

Bishop’s Lagoon Cruises at Aitutaki owner Tenia Bishop said the community had to rely on the strong response from TMO and the police, as well as the Arenikau taskforce.

“The taskforce is working around the clock to ensure people are safe and isolation and quarantine rules are not broken,” Bishop said.

“We’re pinning our hopes on them.”

Bishop said Covid-19 had already had a significant impact on tourism on the island.

“Just yesterday we were expecting some visitors but they had to cancel because they had contracted Covid-19,” he said.

Secretary of Health Bob Williams said the numbers were not surprising.

“Aitutaki’s spread is slower than we expected, but it’s good so the Island Government and all agencies are preparing well in their response,” Williams said.

When asked whether he had any advice for people wanting to travel to Aitutaki, Williams said “people need to decide for themselves”, noting the five recovered cases of Covid-19 were all “mild”.

For Rarotonga, Williams said Covid-19 numbers would be hitting their peak some time over the next couple of weeks.

Public health officer Dr Douglas Lush said the reason for the spike in Covid-19 numbers in Rarotonga—82 on Sunday and 162 on Monday—could be down to people’s reluctance to get tested for Covid-19 over the weekend.

“But we also know that there is still widespread transmission of Covid-19 within the Rarotonga community,” Lush said.

Asked about Aitutaki’s Covid-19 situation, Lush said “we know it spreads very easily within the households, and we quarantine household contacts for that very reason”.

“Our advice would be that anyone displaying any symptoms must arrange to get themselves tested,” Lush said.