It comes as New Zealand and Australia partner to get citizens out of the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the virus started. They could be quarantined on Christmas Island until it’s certain they aren’t infectious.
New Zealand has 53 passport holders known to be in Wuhan. New Zealand consular officials will join an Australian consular team in Wuhan on Thursday to work through the details of either a commercial charter or military evacuation flight.
In Rarotonga, Health Minister Rose Toki-Brown’s office said Ministry of Health leaders met yesterday afternoon to finalise recommendations for Cabinet.
Earlier this week, Minister Toki-Brown said she wanted recommendations:
* that inbound aircraft radio ahead to alert Cook Islands of any passengers showing symptoms of fever or respiratory difficulty;
* that airlines be asked to check whether passengers have come from high-risk areas in China, before they be allowed to board flights to Rarotonga;
* that Cook Islands consider turning away passengers who have come from Wuhan and other high-risk areas in the past two to four weeks.
Last week, the Ministry of Health was working to create awareness of the coronavirus, which can affect both animals and humans.
As of yesterday, 6000 cases were confirmed and, in China, there had been 132 deaths. More than 100 cases have also been reported in Australia, America, Japan, Hong Kong, Thailand and Germany.
Te Marae Ora, the Ministry of Health, has activated the Health Emergency Response System and has checked the country’s state of preparedness.
Cases of the Wuhan coronavirus have increased dramatically over the past week, prompting concerns about how contagious the virus is and how it spreads.
According to the World Health Organisation, 16-21 per cent of people with the virus in China became severely ill and 2-3 per cent of those infected have died.
A key factor that influences transmission is whether the virus can spread in the absence of symptoms – either during the incubation period (the days before people become visibly ill) or in people who never get sick.
On Sunday, Chinese officials said transmission had occurred during the incubation period.