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Covid contact ‘unavoidable’

Tuesday 15 March 2022 | Written by Matthew Littlewood | Published in Health, National


Covid contact ‘unavoidable’

A leading public health expert says everyone within Rarotonga should expect to come into contact with Covid-19, as the Government decides to ditch naming locations of interest.

Cook Islands public health advisor Dr Douglas Lush said the weekend’s numbers, which included 22 reported cases on Saturday and 41 on Sunday, were to be expected, as the outbreak was growing.

There are now 262 active cases in the Cook Islands, and 117 recovered cases, bringing the total to 379.

“I guess one of the reasons for the Saturday numbers being lower would be due to fewer people getting tested that day,” Lush said.

“We expect numbers to fluctuate but the overall trend is an increase in cases.”

Lush said the public health approach from the Government was to spread the peak out, and “to date that appears to be working very well,” although he added that there was a likelihood of nearly half the population of Rarotonga would be infected with the virus and everyone should expect to come into contact with the virus.

Lush said the Cook Islands Covid-19 website will no longer list locations of interest, as Covid-19 numbers increase and most transmission will be to close contacts.

“What we’ve moved to is focusing on close contacts unless there are exceptional circumstances, such as in a rest home, where it is likely that there would be a significant number of people with underlying health conditions, or pockets of unvaccinated people,” he said

Public health advisor Dr Douglas Lush. MATTHEW LITTLEWOOD/22031405

There are five testing stations open in Rarotonga, and one in Aitutaki. The Rarotonga clinics are open every day from 9am to 3pm, while the Aitutaki is open on weekdays from 9am to 3pm.

The testing hub at the Rarotonga Airport will be available during scheduled Air Rarotonga flight times, for a fee of $10.

“We advise anyone who has flu-like symptoms to get tested,” Lush said.

Aitutaki has now experienced three Covid-19 cases, and Lush said that number would almost certainly increase over the next week.

Lush said that now the population is almost fully vaccinated, wearing of masks became the next best defence against Covid-19.

“People have been advised to have sufficient provisions at home for at least a week, similar to precautions you would undertake during a major weather event, such as a cyclone,” Lush said.

Lush said while Omicron was more contagious than other variants of Covid-19, not as many people should require intensive care as a result of contracting it.

He said Te Marae Ora (TMO) had established hotel facilities to deal with people who were in the intimate stages of the illness