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Reinfection rates for Covid-19 on the rise

Friday 6 January 2023 | Written by Matthew Littlewood | Published in Health, National

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Reinfection rates for  Covid-19 on the rise
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

Reinfection rates appear to be one of the reasons for an uptick of Covid-19 cases in the Cook Islands.

According to figures provided by Te Marae Ora Ministry of Health, there are 103 active cases of Covid-19 in the Cook Islands, with 92 in Rarotonga, eight in Aitutaki and three in Atiu.

Since the pandemic began, there have been 6819 cases of Covid-19 in the islands.

Of those, there have been 62 reinfections, two hospitalisations and one Covid-19 death.

“Covid has been lingering, some people are experiencing Covid for the first time,” Secretary of Health Bob Williams said. 

“Many gatherings, and relaxation of our public health measures, can be contributing factors to the increase.”

Williams said of the active Covid-19 cases, about 17 per cent were reinfections.

On Wednesday, TMO announced that it had reintroduced compulsory mask-wearing and RAT testing for those entering health facilities.

On Thursday, they went further, with Williams saying “we are encouraging mask wearing, and for the public to consider wearing masks when in enclosed spaces”.

At the moment, isolation is recommended but voluntary for those affected by Covid-19.

Asked whether TMO would like to see a return to a week-long enforced isolation for those with Covid-19, Williams said it “depends on the situation”.

New Zealand public health expert Professor Michael Baker told Cook Islands News that it was not surprising that we were seeing more Covid-19 reinfections over time.

In New Zealand, the official reinfection rate was about 30 per cent.

“It comes down to simple maths,” Baker said.

“This is a virus that keeps evolving to escape our immunity, which also wanes over time, giving it the ability to reinfect us often, possibly two or three times a year.

“That means that the longer we are living with this virus in our communities, the more likely it is that infections will be reinfections.”

Reinfections will be most common in young people, who have bigger social networks, he said.

“Ultimately Covid-19 may infect and reinfect most of us unless we take steps to prevent it.”

Baker said there is good evidence that both infection and reinfection are harmful.

“All infections carry the risk of serious illness, death, and long Covid, so it is best to prevent them.

“Consequently, if we see a wave of infections, it is important to take additional precautions.

“Once you are in the middle of a new pandemic wave, the probability that you’re going to be near someone in an enclosed space who has Covid-19 rises markedly.”

Baker said it was sensible that TMO had put out a mask-wearing advisory.

“It is also important to shift events to well ventilated areas, such as covered places outside.”

Baker said although everyone would “like to see the back of Covid”, the pandemic is unfortunately still very much with us.

“The speed at which the virus continues to mutate and create new strains means there is a likelihood of ‘succession of waves’ of infection going into the future,” he said.

Being highly infectious may make a virus even worse than being more severe, Baker said.

“Omicron was so good at transmitting that although it appeared to be less virulent than Delta, its impact was greater because it infected far more people.”

Baker said it was likely that the actual number of Covid-19 cases were double the official number, due to people not testing for Covid-19 or being asymptomatic.

He also said as Covid-19 makes its way through the community, the chances of people suffering from long Covid, where people displayed symptoms for over three months, also increased.

Comments

Big Taco on 08/01/2023

Covid is not as dangerous as the fear-porn mongers would make you believe. Young people have a 99.9997% chance of not even being hospitalized. This not-so-common cold mainly affects the elderly-obese with multiple comorbidities… and even then they have about a 96%+ chance of surviving. Oh yeah, masks don’t work either… so not sure why the clown show… compulsorily mandates, draconian mandates… it needs to stop…. Oh, yeah… and stop taking these not very safe and negatively effective clot shots.