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Covid-19 tests return negative, but six in isolation

Wednesday 3 March 2021 | Written by Emmanuel Samoglou | Published in Health, National

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Covid-19 tests return negative, but six in isolation
PHOTO: EMMANUEL SAMOGLOU. 21012216

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 added.