The country’s Covid-19 alert status will be upgraded to Code Yellow tomorrow evening.
The security status is timed to coincide with Parliament passing new emergency laws to provide health authorities with the power to control people’s movement.
Yesterday afternoon, a girl with anaphylaxis and pneumonia symptoms, who had been isolated at Rarotonga Hospital since Saturday, was evacuated to New Zealand.
Prime Minister Henry Puna acknowledged Dr Ted Hughes, a New Zealand Ministry of Health expert who is volunteering here, for “opening the channel” to persuade New Zealand to accept her.
Two more people are being held in quarantine at their homes. Puna said he was expecting test results for those two soon, one of whom has recently returned from overseas.
“Code Yellow is being prompted by the increasing number of cases in New Zealand,” he told Cook Islands News.
“And because our borders are open with New Zealand, which is a must for us, we need to mobilise to the next level. No doubt there will be additional measures that government will be required to make.
“This is about being prepared.”
The government is encouraging people to stay home where possible.
Code Yellow empowers authorities to open a 24/7 National Emergency Operations Centre, and to take targeted action to delay widespread transmission of the virus.
“We have managed to keep this virus away from our shores, yet I cannot stress this enough, we cannot rest, we must not rest, we must never be complacent,” the Prime Minister said.
“I note with grave concern the threat of the rapidly increasing numbers of people diagnosed with this virus in New Zealand.”
Government was preparing as best it could, he said, and so would increase the risk profile from Code Blue to Code Yellow tomorrow – though he emphasised there was still no confirmed Covid case in Cook Islands.
“Our objective is to delay the widespread disease transmission in our community.”
Fellow Cook Islanders and friends, in the days ahead we will be calling on more and more of you to do your part to protect the Cook Islands and keep us prepared.”