Secretary Dr Josephine Aumea Herman said, “we need to break that cycle now, which is painful because that’s our culture.’
Many people have understood the importance of social distancing, no more kisses or hugs, she added.
The work the Ministry has done with the Puna (local community) is so critical, the people have the power to make a difference to this country, said Dr Herman.
“If we can convince people to do all the simple public health things, that’s all we can do.
“When we have the whole society the whole sector, the three pillars –government, the religious advisory council and the Aronga mana all standing strong and the people all together, we will get through this.”
“The key is that we have to carry the people with us, if they don’t understand why we want them to do particular things, it will all fall apart.”
Health advisor Dr Ted Hughes said that COVID-19 is enormously infective, “but its fragile, its extraordinary, for something so dangerous it has this weakness that you can control just by washing your hands with soap and doing simple things.”
“This is unprecedented, I have never seen anything like this, this is on another scale,” he said.
“The problem is we don’t have any drugs… there are no antivirals.”
“Quarantining people is so important because that’s all we can do, we do not have a vaccine.
“We don’t have the antivirals we can’t do intensive care… and the elderly people are the ones we need to be careful about.”
“We are in unchartered waters and we need to accept that we don’t know always what the right thing is to do.
“Good public health can protect you,” said Dr Hughes.
People do need to be aware that by the time you come up with the symptoms, there’s a chance you’ve spread it to everyone in your home.
When we have a case, 80% of people may not need to be in hospital, they need to go home because they will be infectious and spread the virus, we want them to stay quarantined for up to 14 days, said Dr Herman.
“We don’t want to frighten people or cause panic, what we want is common sense, understanding, why we need to pay attention.
“We need people to take notice,” she said.
French Polynesia closed its border to cruise ships, due to their first case of the virus.
Therefore, passengers on the cruise ship Maasdam that had intended to catch their connecting flights from Tahiti where the boat was scheduled to sail to, had to disembark on Thursday to return to their home countries from Rarotonga.
It’s really important at times like this that we demonstrate our humanity, that’s going to take us a long way if we remember to be kind to others, said Dr Herman.
“It might be one of us that gets sick, we need to be kind to each other because some of us might get very ill.
“This is how we demonstrate our leadership as a country.
“These are difficult times right across the world we are doing our bit as a small nation to help.
There are so many international strategies being put in place by countries that we have never seen happen at such a fast pace, she said.
“I’m very clear about the importance of public risk assessments, that’s how you make these important decisions.
“Last week we did not allow a cruise ship to dock because we were not confident that we could not guarantee that there was no one on that ship that could bring the virus in country.
“We are working through this every day, it’s a lot of work because of the speed and the pace that COVID-19,” said Dr Herman.