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Keep sanitising, wearing masks and maintaining physical distancing

Tuesday 8 March 2022 | Written by Supplied | Published in Opinion, Raro on my mind

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Well by now you will have heard that we have our first case of Covid-19 in the Pa Enua, in Aitutaki.

This was not unexpected, as we have seen overseas, Covid finds a way of breaking through even the most elaborate of our defenses.

Fortunately, as I have said a number of times, we have prepared for this. As in Rarotonga, the Pa Enua including Aitutaki is well vaccinated. We have heeded the advice from our public health experts. We have seen too the evidence from overseas that this Omicron variant is more transmissable but usually not as severe as the earlier variants.

Consequently, escpecially if you’re fully vaccinated, while you may contract the virus – as we are seeing here and in New Zealand – it is a milder infection akin to a head cold or mild flu, producing a sore throat and runny nose. Some people who have tested positive are asymtomatic and didn’t even know they had it.

While we’ve now detected more than a hundred cases in Rarotonga, so far no one has required hospitalisation, their illness is being managed at home or in an isolation facility. That’s another thing our health experts told us would likely happen.

Will we see an end to Covid anytime soon? Well once again overseas we’ve seen that Omicron has a very rapid build up in numbers with infections often doubling everyday before reaching a peak; and then infection numbers start dropping away. We are starting to see that happening in New Zealand – particularly in Auckland. While it is worthwhile keeping an eye on that trend, in other parts of New Zealand where Omicron arrived later, infections are still rising. Our numbers are too and have not yet peaked. So keep sanitising, keep wearing masks and maintaining physical distancing.

Na te Atua e tiaki e paruru ia tatou katoatoa.

On a happier note, I was pleased to see the Queen’s Baton arrive and start passing through our country this week enroute to the Commonwealth Games to be held in Birmingham in July this year. It’s remarkable to realise that this Baton represents our Head Of State – Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II – who has dedicated 70 years of her life in service to the people of the Commonwealth. An organisation which is a voluntary grouping of 72 nations and territories from around the world, with every race and creed; and every four years the youth from those countries gather to compete in a whole host of sports.

There are several major sporting events held around the world every four years or so, like the Olympics, the Football World Cup, the Rugby World Cup. But none have as diverse a group of contestants as the Commonwealth Games – which are also often referred to as the ‘friendly games’.

The first games – known back then as the British Empire Games – was held in the City of Hamilton, in the Canadian Province of Ontario in 1930 – 92 years ago. Only twice have the games been cancelled in 1942 and 1946, because of the Second World War. Six countries have competed in every Games, and they are often referred to as the ‘old Commonwealth’, Australia, Canada, England, New Zealand, Scotland and Wales.

We, the Cook Islands went to our first Commonwealth Games when they were held in Christchurch in 1974, 48 years ago. I first received the Queen’s Baton when I was Minister of Sport in 2014, as the Baton made its to the games in Glasgow; and again in 2018 before the Gold Coast Games in Australia. It has taken us a while but we won our first medal; a bronze in the mens bowls pairs, at the 2018 Games on the Gold Coast. A fantastic achievement that our current Minister of Sport will be looking to equal or better in Birmingham.

Despite our small size, we are a very sporting nation and I want to encourage our people with aspirations for these upcoming games – and future games – to train your hearts out, follow your dreams and give it your very best shot.

And finally, perhaps with Her Majesty still in mind, I note today is International Women’s Day and I want to wish all our Mamas and our young women the very best for today and the year ahead.

Kia Manuia.