Cook Islands no longer Covid-free



The Cook Islands has reported its first case of Covid-19, which hit an overseas-based citizen who has been on a holiday in Rarotonga since May 21.


The health ministry said the vacationing Cook Islands man tested positive for Covid-19 after requesting to be swabbed Friday. He was asymptomatic and his test was deemed a historic case, health officials said in a statement.


The Cook Islands citizen flew from Egypt and arrived in Auckland on May 5.

Health officials said he tested positive on his first test while in isolation in Auckland.


"Because he needed to have a Covid test before returning to Egypt, he requested one late yesterday and the result came back positive. The man was not showing any symptoms of the disease," health officials said.


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Health Secretary Bob Williams said his office staff "acted with urgency" and has "taken this matter very very seriously.”


After confirming the positive test result, the ministry quickly activated the Health Intelligence Unit.


"Investigations took place to find out whether this person was infectious, where he had been and his travel history," the health ministry said.


The Covid-positive man's wife, son and nine close contacts have been cleared after returning negative results.


“Our systems have been tested and have worked and I am confident with the results. Indications are that the positive test has reacted to an historical infection of Covid-19," Williams said.


"Overseas, people have been known to continue testing positive for the virus for some considerable time after they have recovered from it and are no longer infectious.”


Last week, the health ministry reported that its Covid vaccine rollout had been progressing at a pace and consistently ahead of schedule from the time the first vials of vaccine arrived in-country on May 17.


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The Cook Islands was considered one of the safest places in the world to visit, having been fortunate to remain Covid-19 free throughout the pandemic.


As of the last week of May 25, approximately 90 percent of Rarotonga’s eligible population had received their first dose of the vaccine.


The number of vaccine doses administered each day climbed to a high of 1,000 on May 24, up from the previous daily high of 815 on May 22.


Health officials said current stocks of the vaccine are now almost exhausted, which will allow the vaccination team time for a well-earned break before the new batch of vaccine vials arrives from New Zealand on May 28 and vaccination recommenced that afternoon.



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