A leading Covid-19 expert says it is ‘inevitable’ that the Cook Islands will experience some hospitalisations from the virus, as the virus makes its way through the community.
Cook Islands public health
advisor Dr Douglas Lush’s comments come after the latest Covid numbers show
there have been 280 community cases so far, but no hospitalisations.
Thirty-three new cases were
recorded yesterday – down from the record 41 cases on Thursday.
“So far, the virus has largely
been circulating among the younger community, such as in schools, who tend to
be less vulnerable,” Lush said.
“It’s inevitable it will also
circulate amongst older or more vulnerable parts of the community. In turn,
this will likely lead to hospitalisations.”
Lush said Te Marae Ora (TMO)
had contingencies in the event of people needing additional care and for hospitalisations
occurring due to the ongoing spread of the virus.
“We are absolutely prepared
and the Pfizer vaccination provides us with additional care and protection,”
Prime Minister Mark Brown said
the nation was ready for the arrival of hospital admissions due to Covid-19,
particularly as their dedicated Covid ward at the Rarotonga hospital was
PM Brown said the current
Covid-19 numbers were actually tracking lower than expected.
think they’re pretty low, lower than I expected I did expect that the increase
could be quicker but … I guess part of that is the high vaccination rates we’ve
got which does help dampen down the effectiveness of the transmission,” he
“I don’t know what
we will get up to, but overseas estimates numbers double every three days, we
haven’t quite seen that yet so it could be at a slower period of peaking than
we think it might be.
the moment TMO is unable to give me any accurate measures, it’s just three to
six weeks is when we could expect that peak.”
TMO made changes to the
testing process earlier this week, where people no longer require a PCR test
after a RAT test comes out positive for Covid-19.
“When there was no Covid-19 on
the island, RAT tests weren’t as suitable on their own for diagnosing the first
cases, as they occasionally deliver false positives,” Lush said.
“The early cases took on
enormous significance in terms of being the first virus on the island, but now
with Covid-19 widely established in the community, the RAT tests can serve
Lush said tourists testing
positive for Covid-19 would be able to isolate at the resorts, provided all
protocols are properly observed.
Earlier this week, the
Government reduced the required isolation period from 10 days to seven days.
Lush said this would allow for
some flexibility, particularly for tourists who are able to return within a
He said all tourists with
symptoms can get free tests from the health clinics and TMO have supported
tourist venues in training and the supply of test kits.
PM Brown said the decision to
make RAT tests more widely available would benefit Cook Islands families as
well as tourists.
“It’s not so much
aimed at tourists, I think it was our people who were complaining about the
high costs,” he said
“We decided let’s
make (RAT tests) available as well as the PCR, so really was two factors the
easy availability of RATs that end up being used and now widely used and
accepted in New Zealand and of course the cost factor as well.
“I think it will
make it a lot easier for people, if you have got a family of four that’s a
thousand bucks in PCR tests, with RAT tests that cost significantly drops down.”
PM Brown said as New Zealand
develops its own approach to the Covid-19 outbreak, the Cook Islands would
“What we’re finding
is a lot of our restrictions we had in place are becoming redundant,” Brown
why we are adjusting and changing as things go on, so you may even see in the
next couple of months no requirement for testing at all just the vaccination
requirement to get on the plane because Covid would have been wide spread
throughout New Zealand and expected to be wide spread through our country as
will come a day that you won’t need to wear a mask, you won’t need to get
tested, you won’t need to have vaccination. That’s the aim that we are all
going for is back to normal as much as possible.”