Sick people sent to the other motu

Tuesday 24 March 2020 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Outer Islands


Sick people sent to the other motu
Apii Niua students on the island of Pukapuka. 20032040.

As Rarotonga locks in border control, life goes as usual on Pukapuka.

“Students at Apii Niua say, all we can do is pray,” says principal Ana Katoa.

Pukapuka, with a population of 439, isthe most isolated atoll of the Cook Islands, comprising three islets and a sandbank.

The kids have had to adjust to no more hugging or walking arm-in-arm with their friends.

“People who get sick must go on the other motu and stay there until they get better,” says Katoa. “The flu just can’t seem to leave our primary children alone. It comes and goes.”

“According to the nurse it is because parents, offer medication once or twice, leave the rest on the shelves and do not give time for it to take effect and heal.

“They send their children back to school and it becomes a cycle of days present and days absent within the week and onwards.”

Updates of the coronavirus devastating effects on world population are viewed by the island community on the news and on Facebook with calm, Katoa adds.

Children are encouraged in hygiene practices such as washing hands and what to do when coughing.

“We have found that encouraging our students to wash their hands in basins is not an effective practice as we do not have running water and we conserve as much water as we can for drinking and cooking.

“There has to be an effective practice in washing hands where water could be conserved at the same time.”

“We, the Principal, staff and students of Apii Niua pray for our families on Rarotonga, New Zealand, Australia and other parts of the world that they may stay safe and may it never reach our island paradise.”

The community is also kept informed by the Ministry of Health and the Island Administration.