Secretary of Health Bob Williams. RYAN ANDERSON/STUFF/21081919
There are now six reported cases of Covid-19 in the Cook Islands but Government remains confident as New Zealand battles with a new ‘Variant soup’.
The spike in figures follows report of a
single Covid-19 case in Rarotonga on
On Thursday, Secretary of Health Bob
Williams confirmed there are five active cases in Rarotonga and one in
He described the cases as normal mild
Cook Islands News asked Williams if there
is background information available on each of the cases, if they are connected
in any way, if any are reinfections, if people are isolating and if Government
is still offering any assistance.
“Covid is normalised, no more Government
support,” he replied.
Figures supplied by Williams show 6417
cases to date in the Cook Islands – six active, 6410 recovered and one
While the positive case reported on
Wednesday indicated a historical infection or possibly a reinfection, Williams
did not elaborate on the status.
Government announced in September that
Covid-19 vaccination requirements for travel and entry to the Cook Islands were
removed, effective September 6, 2022.
At the same time, the single port of entry
requirement for maritime vessels entering the Cook Islands was amended to
include the ports of Aitutaki, Atiu, Tongareva and Pukapuka in addition to
“Variant soup” is one of the new phrases
being used to describe what’s happening with Covid-19 in New Zealand at the
New Zealand Institute of Environmental
Science and Research head of bioinformatics and genomics Joep de Ligt told RNZ
on Thursday some of that variant soup had started arriving in New Zealand.
“It’s still pretty manageable (in New
Zealand) and the variant soup is what’s described in Europe.”
There was no longer just one variant, like
Alpha, Beta, Omicron circling, but a whole collection of variants which may not
get given a Greek letter name, he said.
The Omicron subvariant BQ.1.1 was on the
rise in New Zealand and likely driving up cases, Ligt said.
Most variants now were descendants of
Omicron, he said, adding a variant soup made them harder to predict.
“The number of people who get any one
variant is less, so the power to detect those characteristics (like severity),
is also less.”
Seven big variants which had caused waves
internationally were being tracked in NZ, Ligt said.
“There was one report from Denmark where
in a month they saw 150 different variants.”
A large rise in cases that was persistent
was a big concern, he said.
The biggest problem was not the variant
New Zealand got, unless there was a particularly bad one, but a wave that would
impact vulnerable people that were previously safe, he said.
Ligt hoped that NZ could reach a point
where there was collective thinking that mask use would be helpful no matter
“The only safe
prediction is that there is going to be a wave, how bad it is going to be
partially dependent on people’s behaviour but also these new variants – and
they are around and they are causing waves – and we will lose loved ones.”