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New Covid variant detected, TMO calls on public to be vigilant

Wednesday 11 January 2023 | Written by Losirene Lacanivalu | Published in Health, National

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New Covid variant detected, TMO calls on public to be vigilant
A CITC (Foodland Supermarket) worker shows off her mask. Te Marae Ora is encouraging people to wear masks in enclosed spaces, as another strain of Covid makes its way through the community. Photo: Matthew Littlewood

Te Marae Ora, Ministry of Health has identified a case of the XBB1 variant in the Cook Islands.

Secretary for Health, Bob Williams confirmed this saying that the Health Intelligence Unit has been monitoring the new variants. 

"Our team can only detect the variant if our community members report their situation to TMO, so that our staff can carry out the necessary tests," Williams said.

When asked if there were plans for stricter border measures as there is the XBB.1.5 variant detected in New Zealand and Fiji, Williams said: "Not at this time, TMO continues to monitor and is working closely with our local and overseas stakeholders."

The XBB.1.5 variant of Covid-19, also known as 'Kraken', has been detected in New Zealand and Fiji. The variants are descended from the Omicron XBB sub variant.

"New variants are emerging each day globally, with the rapid changes of the virus our public health measures along with vaccination are our best defence mechanisms to minimise community transmission and also severity of illness resulting in hospitalisation or death," Williams said.

TMO is encouraging the public to be more vigilant with mask wearing and physical distancing. If unwell, stay home and endeavour to avoid large gatherings.

TMO has reported that re-infections are 13 out of the 91 active cases, which is 12 per cent.  

There are 78 new infections in total where 26 have had at least one vaccination, they still require more information on the 52. 

It was earlier reported that cases are being detected in Rarotonga, Aitutaki, Atiu and Mitiaro.

The health ministry continues to reiterate the importance of wearing masks in enclosed spaces such as supermarkets. It is compulsory to wear masks when visiting the health centres.