The escalation from Code Blue to Code Yellow today at 6pm signals health officials have reasonable grounds to believe there is a suspected case of the coronavirus in the community, says the Health ministry.
However, Dr Josephine Aumea Herman, the Cook Islands Secretary of Health, stressed that to date there are no confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the Cook Islands.
“The escalating threat of pandemic Covid-19 outside our borders, in particular New Zealand, now call for us to move to Code Yellow as part of our national emergency response, even though we do not have any confirmed Covid-19 cases in the Cook Islands,” she said.
Prime Minister Henry Puna in a national address last night said it was time to take a bold step to help protect the country.
“As we prepare to move to Code Yellow we need to change our ways. While we can confirm there are no Covid-19 cases, we have to act like we have the virus now and be strict and discipline now,” Puna said.
“We cannot and we must not take any chances.”
The country will shift from Code Blue to Code Yellow alert as part of the national Covid-19 emergency response plan at 6pm today.
Dr Herman said: “Code Yellow means Covid-19 is contained but the risk of community transmission is growing. At this stage, preventative measures implemented early can slow the transmission of infection and reduce the peak number of cases.”
The latest Covid-19 test results confirm that 11 swab tests taken in the Cook Islands and sent to New Zealand for testing have come back negative for Covid-19.
Yesterday Te Marae Ora Cook Islands Ministry of Health released information about three people of interest under active medical supervision. One returned negative tests.
Health officials are awaiting results for the two remaining people of interest, which includes the patient referred to New Zealand on Monday, who has now been discharged from hospital care in New Zealand.
In recent days, health professionals in the Cook Islands have taken precautionary measures to collect swabs from people who presented at health facilities with a fever or cough.
More than 80 swabs have been sent to New Zealand and of the 11 results returned, all have tested negative for Covid-19.
Dr Herman said Te Marae Ora will continue to implement recommended Covid-19 protocols while it awaits test results to come back.
“We’re aiming to flatten the curve and slow the spread of the disease, but this will rely heavily on community action and participation,” she said.