All of last week’s returnees have returned negative tests, however six individuals have been asked to self-isolate for two weeks after visiting locations of interest in Auckland.
All returnees who arrived in Rarotonga last week have tested
negative for Covid-19, Te Marae Ora Ministry of Health has confirmed.
In response to the emergence of new community cases in NZ
last week, Secretary of Health Bob Williams said all passengers who arrived on
Tuesday and Friday’s Air New Zealand flights from Auckland had been tested by
Saturday, with all tests coming back negative.
A total of six individuals, three from Tuesday’s flight and
three from Friday’s, are required to complete 14 days of self-isolation after
it was discovered they had visited locations of interest in Auckland and
connected with the recently discovered community cases there.
All individuals had produced negative tests as required
before boarding the plane and flying to Rarotonga, Williams said.
Mass testing target for end of April
Yesterday, Te Marae Ora spokesperson Jaewynn McKay
re-iterated Rarotonga Hospital is on track to have its mass testing polymerase
chain reaction (PCR) laboratory in operation by the end of April.
Local health officials said the PCR laboratory will allow
rapid Covid-19 testing in high numbers, which has been cited as a key
requirement for a travel bubble with New Zealand.
McKay said online training for the lab’s operation is
currently in progress and more intensive training will take place once new
equipment arrives and is installed.
On-the-ground training will start during first two weeks in
April, she said.
Last weekend’s tests were carried out through nasal swabbing
and analysed using the hospital’s GeneXpert machine, McKay said.
There are currently enough supplies at the hospital for over
10,000 tests, she added.
Meanwhile Secretary Williams reiterated his appreciation to
the community and its response to advice from the health ministry over the
weekend, as well as assistance from Cook Islands Police and Rarotonga’s puna.
“Puna have been an important part of our history and
traditions and have risen to this latest challenge admirably since they were
reinvigorated almost a year ago,” he said.
Williams also requested that the public refrain from
spreading gossip or unfounded rumours, which he said can hinder government’s
response to emergencies.
“Doing so can be dangerous and unhelpful and serves no
purpose other than to create unnecessary anxiety among the community,” he