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Mangaia’s Covid-19 restrictions set to ease

Tuesday 16 August 2022 | Written by Matthew Littlewood | Published in Health, National

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Mangaia’s Covid-19 restrictions set to ease
Visitors land at Mangaia airport. Photo: FILE/SUPPLIED/22021512

Health orders in Mangaia will be dropped this weekend.

The island, which has recorded 218 cases since the beginning of August, has just one active case.

Health orders, which include mandatory mask wearing, restrictions on indoor and outdoor gathering sizes, and compulsory Rapid Antigen Testing (RAT testing) for people playing contact sports, have been in place.

However, Secretary of Health Bob Williams confirmed that all of those health orders will be dropped this weekend.

Mangaia island council executive officer Anthony Whyte said he was pleased to hear the news.

“At the end of the day, it’s up to Te Marae Ora (TMO) to make the call, and if they think the time is right, then that’s great news. We seem to be fairly clear of Covid-19 now. At the moment, we’re still carrying out our testing, but it appears to have fizzled out,” Whyte said.

Whyte said there were estimates that more than half the island had caught Covid-19 since the outbreak first occurred on the island.

“There was also a really bad strain of the flu going on just before the official outbreak, it could well have been that some of those who thought they had the flu and stayed home actually had Covid-19,” he said.

Whyte described the pandemic as “hitting everyone at once”.

“Prior to the outbreak, we had done all sorts of contingency planning and modelling as to what would happen should the pandemic reach our island,” he said.

“Well, no one had prepared for pretty much our entire workforce to be wiped out for a week. You can do all the planning you want, but it’s not going to replicate a situation where pretty much everyone is sick.”

Whyte said given the extent of the outbreak, he was surprised there were no hospitalisations or deaths.

“We seemed to come through it relatively unscathed. We had all these resources such as our hospital and health centre, but touch wood, we didn’t have to use them for Covid-19,” he said.

Whyte said most people complied with the health orders, although there were a “small number” of people who “tried to avoid them”.

“We had some really good security people checking up on houses that had red flags to ensure people were staying at home, and weren’t going out for fishing or whatever,” he said.

Meanwhile, the pandemic continues in Manihiki and Rakahanga with 20 cases in weekend for Manihiki and two for Rakahanga.

Health orders remain in place for both islands, and are officially set to expire on September 23, although this could change.

Williams said he was also pleased that “almost 500” people in Rarotonga completed the latest booster shot over the weekend.

According to the Cook Islands Covid-19 website, there have been 6240 cases since the pandemic began, with 78 of those cases still active.