COVID-19

Health resources, information, and advice to protect yourself, your family, and your community. 

Essential Workers and Business registration

The Essential Worker Pass will allow you to travel only to and from your residence and work. This Pass does not permit you to visit any other location. Should you return a positive test of COVID-19, the pass will be rescinded and you will enter isolation for a period of 7 days as it is Te Marae Ora protocol. If you are in a household where someone else has tested positive and is under isolation, you or your employer will be able to apply to apply for an Essential Worker Pass from Te Marae Ora.

The Essential Business Online Registration form is for employers to register and receive the Essential Workers Pass for their employees. Please note that only essential businesses can register for this form. Read the GUIDE FOR EMPLOYERS ON ESSENTIAL WORKERS to learn Public Health guidance for employers of essential workers who are COVID-19 cases or household contacts.

Read the ESSENTIAL SERVICES AND RESTRICTIONS POLICY document.  

COVID-19 Testing

Where to get a COVID-19 test

If you have cold, flu or COVID-19 symptoms or are a close contact of a positive case, please get a COVID-19 test as soon as possible. Testing locations can be found below:

  • Village Clinics/Punas (Mon – Fri 8am – 4pm)
  • Tupapa Primary Health Care (At your expense. Please call first and book an appointment)
  • Rarotonga International Airport ($10. Mon – Fri 8am – 4pm)
  • Aitutaki Hospital (Please call first)
  • Pa Enua Health Facilities (Please call first.)

Learn more about the types of COVID-19 tests here. View the locations of your village Clinic/Puna and Health centres here.

Conducting an RAT test for your Business or home?

If you are a Health and Safety Officer for your business or are conducting personal RAT tests at home, please record all tests using these forms below.

  • RAT Testing Summary Form – This form is used to record the daily RAT tests conducted at each location/organization/personal
  • RAT Test Positive Case Form – This form is used to record up to 10 positive cases. If there are more than 10 cases in any given period, users will be required to fill this form twice.

Public Health Measures

COVID-19 mainly spreads from person-to-person through infected droplets released when a sick person sneezes or coughs nearby another person’s mouth and nose.  Te Marae Ora recommends these simples steps to keep yourself and your families safe. 

10 Public Health Tips to Keep You Safe
  1. Wash your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser
  2. Practise pragmatic physical distancing (at least 1m)
  3. Cover your coughs and sneezes
  4. Avoid touching your face (eyes, mouth, nose) with unwashed hands
  5. Stay home when unwell
  6. Wear a face mask if unwell, in public, crowded, or enclosed spaces
  7. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces
  8. Limit time spent in crowded and enclosed spaces
  9. Protect vulnerable people in our community
  10. Avoid spreading misinformation

Vaccination

Te Marae Ora (TMO) and the Government of the Cook Islands aims to get all eligible Cook Island residents vaccinated. The vaccine will be free to Cook Islands residents only. The COVID-19 vaccination will be free of charge and completely voluntary. 

What vaccines will be available

COVID-19 vaccines that is made available to the Cook Islands is Pfizer. More information on the vaccine can be found below:

Who can get a vaccine?

You can get a free vaccine if you are a resident of the Cook Islands or hold a work permit to work here. The vaccine is available and recommended to persons +12 years of age. The vaccine is also recommended for persons from 5 to 11 years of age but a consent form is required from the parents or caregivers of the child. Please note that the dosage of Pfizer vaccine is different from the dosage given to those aged +12 years old. Any information collected will not be used for immigration purposes. We are expecting enough vaccines for the rest of the eligible people of the Cook Islands. The vaccine is not recommended for people under the age of 5 years or have a history of severe allergic reaction to any component of the vaccine and they should not take it. 

Should pregnant women be vaccinated?

While pregnancy puts women at higher risk of severe COVID-19, very little data is available to assess vaccine safety during pregnancy. Pregnant women may receive the vaccine if the benefit of vaccinating a pregnant woman outweighs the potential vaccine risks. For this reason, pregnant women at high risk of exposure to COVID-19 (example health workers) or who have comorbidities, which add to their risk of severe disease, may be vaccinated in consultation with their health care provider. 

When will you get the vaccine

The COVID-19 vaccine will be rolled out through a COVID-19 Immunisation programme as supply becomes available. Rollout dates are identified but may change depending on when the vaccines arrive and what’s happening in our community, NZ and the region.

Vaccination Stations location

The vaccines will be given to the general public at Rarotonga Hospital. The vaccination sites in the Pa Ena will be located at the TMO hospitals or clinics. TMO will confirm if any changes to venues and will issue vaccination times and groups closer to the dates.

Medical exemption for vaccine

Those who are not able to receive a COVID-19 vaccine due to medical reasons must be exempted. To apply for an exemption you must fill out a Medical Exemption application, and email the completed application to covidvacmedexemption@cookislands.gov.ck . Your application will be processed within 10 working days.

Digital Vaccination Certificate

What is a Digital Covid- 19 Vaccination Certificate? 

It is valid digital document that serves as proof that you have been fully vaccinated. To ensure all persons whom have been vaccinated  can provide a valid form of proof digitally. This can only be done via a Digital Vaccination Certificate that can be stored/saved on any of your devices electronically.

This certificate can then be utilized for Travel and other circumstances that may require you to verify your vaccination status.

In order for the Digital Vaccination Certificate to be valid and verified against your Bio data – the records must match either your Passport Name and/or your Birth Certificate.

What is required?

  • The Patient Name is to be updated to reflect the Passport Name as  verified on the Passport Bio page.
  • For those that do not have a Passport , you must produce a Birth Certificate for verification.

What must be submitted?

  1. Scanned copy of either your passport bio page or birth certificate
  2. Save documents with the following formats:
    • Save Image in this format – *.jpg or *.pdf
      Passport: FullName_PP.jpg or FullName_PP.pdf { Example: mickeymouse_PP.jpg}
    • Birth Certificate:  Fullname_BC.jpg or Fullname_BC.pdf { Example: mickeymouse_BC.jpg}

What to do Next?

  1. Online: Go to UPDATEMYNAME Online Form and fill in the online form details before uploading a scanned copy of your passport bio page or birth certificate. Documents should be saved as what is required above.
  2. Email: Send a scanned copy of your passport bio page or birth certificate (saved and named as above) to tmo.vaccinecerts@cookislands.gov.ck  
  3. In person in Rarotonga: Take a copy of your passport bio page or birth certificate to either Rarotonga Hospital, Tupapa Community Health Centre or your local Puna clinic. If you are unable to take a copy of the original, a copy/scan will be taken, and your original document will be handed to you.
  4. In person in the Pa Enua: Take a copy of your passport bio page or birth certificate to your local hospital.  Again, if you are unable to take a copy of the original, a copy/scan will be taken, and your original document will be handed to you.

Should you have any further queries, please send an email to – tmo.vaccinecerts@cookislands.gov.ck 

Events and Gatherings

View updated Ministerial order concerning private and public events gathering and what restrictions. Here

1. All indoor and outdoor events and social gatherings, whether in a private or public setting, organised or spontaneous, are restricted to a specific number of people dependent on the Island you live on, unless an exemption has been obtained from the Secretary of Health (or delegate).

2. This includes (but is not limited to) parties; fundraisers; team sports training and games; sporting events; funerals; weddings; live shows; the cinema; night clubs and family land meetings. 

3. This does not include a gathering for the purpose of business or service – 

  • at an office or workplace; or
  • as part of ordinary retail operations; or
  • at a hearing of a court or tribunal; or 
  • churches, cafes, restaurants and bars; or 
  • as part of ordinary operations at an education entity.
Contact Sports

4. All forms of contact sports, whether in a public or private setting, are prohibited, including training and match play.

Contact sports means any sport that involves the participants coming into bodily contact with one another as an accepted part of play.

What defines a Gathering?

Gatherings are situations where people are intermingling in a group and remain closer than 2 metres from each other.

Gatherings include (but not limited to):

  • a gathering to undertake voluntary or not-for-profit sporting, recreational, social, or cultural activities
  • a gathering to undertake community club activities
  • a faith-based gathering
  • a funeral
  • a gathering held in a defined space or premises of a workplace (other than a vehicle in use as part of a public transport service) that have been hired for the exclusive use of the gathering by a person (other than the person who manages or controls the defined space or premises)

This excludes a gathering for the purpose of a business or service:

  • at an office workplace
  • as part of its ordinary retail operations
  • at a hearing of a court or tribunal
  • as part of its ordinary operations at an education entity

What defines an Event?

An Event is any activity organized by a business or service where entry is controlled (whether through ticketing, fees, registration, or any other means) that is held at:

  • Any commercial premises or private premises (whether indoors or outdoors)
  • Publicly-owned premises hired for the purpose of the activity
  • An outdoor area where a group of customers and clients is accompanied or supervised by a worker providing services to that group (for example, a guided tour).

This includes normal operations at cinemas, theatres, stadiums, concert venues, conference venues, and private galleries; but excludes any activity at a private dwelling house.

Border control

Airports

For more information on international and domestic travel, please refer to the Cook Islands Travel pageView Travel Advisory HERE

Outbound travel to New Zealand remains unaffected. Travel to the Pa Enua may have restrictions depending on their COVID-19 situation. Only passengers with an exemption letter from the Secretary of Health (or delegate) can travel to the Pa Enua if travel is restricted. Please note that a RAT test may be required for travel to the Pa Enua.

As of 17 May 2021, Cook Islands and New Zealand has established two-way quarantine free travel bubble under a Quarantine-Free travel (QFT) arrangement. Meaning travellers outside of New Zealand seeking entrance into the Cook Islands will need to stay in New Zealand for 14 consecutive days prior to departure.

For more information, please refer to Travel Information and FAQ’s for New Zealand – Cook Islands, read the joint Press Release or visit our travel page. 

Te Marae Ora staff are based at the airport to conduct international exit health screening for passengers flying to New Zealand, and health screening for international arrivals from New Zealand and domestic departures to the Pa Enua (Outer Islands). Travellers to the Northern Group Islands are required to return a negative COVID-19 test 24 to 48 priors prior to departure.

Seaports

The Cook Islands sea ports are closed to all yachts, cruise ships and leisure crafts since March 2020.

Te Marae Ora staff are based at the seaport to conduct exit health screening for passengers travelling to the Pa Enua (Outer Islands). 

COVID-19 Testing

There are three types of tests conducted in the Cook Islands to identify the SARS-CoV-2 virus, that causes COVID-19: 1) RT-PCR, 2) Serology and 3) RAT.

RT-PCR (real time polymerase chain reaction) tests are the gold standard for COVID-19 testing. Samples are collected in two ways: nasopharyngeal (via the nose) swabs or oropharyngeal (via the mouth) swabs. The PCR test detects genetic material from the virus, the RNA – if it is present, you may receive a positive test result indicating infection.

Serology tests are conducted using your blood sample. It detects antibodies in your body and checks your immune response toward COVID-19. A positive serology test result may indicate past infection. A serology test is not diagnostic, but useful for surveillance. 

Play Video

RAT (Rapid antigen test) is generally taken with a front nose swab and detects the presence of specific COVID-19 proteins, such as the nucleocapsid or spike protein. Results can show around 20 minutes after collecting the nose swab sample.

Laboratory testing for COVID-19 involves a mixture of in-country testing, and sending swabs to New Zealand reference laboratories for analysis. You can only receive a test if it is ordered by a clinician at Te Marae Ora. However, in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19, RAT kits are available for purchase at your local pharmacy or contact the Puna Clinics. Businesses that received RAT kits also have selected staff members that have been trained and are capable administering a RAT. If you are travelling to the Pa Enua (Outer Islands) or overseas and require a COVID-19 test, testing is available at the Rarotonga Airport. 

Frequently Asked Questions

COVID-19 is a new respiratory illness. It is caused by a virus called severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The virus was first reported in December 2019 in Wuhan, China. The World Health Organization declared it a pandemic on 12 March 2020.

Common symptoms include a new or worsening cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, cold-like symptoms (such as sneezing and runny nose), and a loss of smell, with or without fever (>38°C). 

The SARS-CoV-2 virus, that causes COVID-19, is spread through the following modes: 1) large droplet spread; 2) aerosalised spread (for example coughing and sneezing); and 3) contact with respiratory secretions (for example contaminated surfaces).

You can become infected through direct contact with infected droplets released through coughing, sneezing, talking, singing or even hugging others. If infected droplets land on a surface or object, you can become infected by putting your hand on the contaminated surface/object and touching your face, mouth or nose.

  • COVID-19 tests are available for free at community-based testing centres in Auckland.
  • Please contact your usual GP in New Zealand for further information regarding testing centre. If you do not have an Auckland based GP, please contact Te Marae Ora on email: tmo.exemptions@cookislands.gov.ck
  • When you present for your test, ensure you have a mobile number and email address so that the test results can be sent to your phone and/or forward the results to Te Marae Ora on email: tmo.exemptions@cookislands.gov.ck.
  • If you require further assistance contact your GP. It will be the responsibility of the traveller to make the necessary arrangements and cover any associated cost with undertaking COVID-19 testing prior to departure
  • As soon as possible, noting that results may not be available for one to three days.
  • COVID-19 tests must be arranged within 96 hours of your flight departing Auckland.
  • No.
  • If you know you will not be receiving the results of your COVID-19 test prior to your check-in, please contact Te Marae Ora directly by either; email: tmo.exemptions@cookislands.gov.ck or Phone: Cook Islands +682 29 110
  • You cannot travel directly to the Cook Islands from Australia (or any other country). You will be required to stay in New Zealand for 14 days.
  •  
  • Please check the New Zealand Government Managed Isolation and Quarantine website for applicable charges to enter their managed isolation facilities. https://www.miq.govt.nz/
  • Once Te Marae Ora has received the results of your COVID-19 test result (negative), your details will be communicated to Immigration Cook Islands who will provide final approval for you to travel to the Cook Islands.

Quarantine and isolation

The Difference between quarantine and isolation

Quarantine is required if you’ve been identified as a household or close contact of someone who’s tested positive for COVID-19. You will need to undergo tests, even if asymptomatic.

  • For households contacts: 7 day quarantine period
  • For close contacts: 7 day quarantine period
Isolation is required if you return a positive COVID-19 test. Isolation period is 7 days.
Facilities

In the event your current accommodation is no longer able to house you, the Cook Islands Government have sourced the following options. To arrange a slot, please contact the TMO call centre on +682 57486 or +682 56180.

Please note that accommodation facilities, including food & beverage requirements, are borne by the individual. We highly recommend you secure COVID-19 Travel Insurance.

What to expect

Should you be issued an isolation or quarantine order while in the Cook Islands, here is what you can expect.

Isolation/Quarantine

  • Accommodation costs for the isolation period will be borne by the individual.
  • Costs for food, beverages and other items will be borne by the individual.
  • Any tests required as per the Isolation Order has no cost associated to it, as this is a requirement from Te Marae Ora
  • Whilst in isolation, the Health Clinics will monitor you. This monitoring will be conducted via phone call only with exception that a face to face when required
  • The Punas will support the Health Clinics with regards to delivery of items (if any) and the delivery of medications.
  • An isolation pack will be given to you. This pack contains an information booklet and symptom diary to help you monitor and record your symptoms
  • Upon receiving your isolation orders, you will also be given an isolation criteria and pamphlet from NZHC with useful numbers to contact. This is to help you be as self-sufficient as possible

Frequently Asked Questions

COVID-19 is a new respiratory illness. It is caused by a virus called severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The virus was first reported in December 2019 in Wuhan, China. The World Health Organization declared it a pandemic on 12 March 2020.

Common symptoms include a new or worsening cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, cold-like symptoms (such as sneezing and runny nose), and a loss of smell, with or without fever (>38°C). 

Less common symptoms include diarrhoea, a headache, nausea or vomiting, muscle pain or body aches, abdominal pain, chest pain, joint pain, confusion or irritability and malaise (a feeling of discomfort or unease). 

The SARS-CoV-2 virus, that causes COVID-19, is spread through the following modes: 1) large droplet spread; 2) aerosalised spread (for example coughing and sneezing); and 3) contact with respiratory secretions (for example contaminated surfaces).

You can become infected through direct contact with infected droplets released through coughing, sneezing, talking, singing or even hugging others. If infected droplets land on a surface or object, you can become infected by putting your hand on the contaminated surface/object and touching your face, mouth or nose.

The spread of the virus by aerosols have increased the risk of transmission or contraction. Now the risk of airborne transmission is higher when in enclosed spaces with no airflow, crowded areas and close contact settings (this includes conversations, singing and shouting). The risk is lowered in outdoor settings, less people and if people are social distancing.

  • COVID-19 tests are available for free at community-based testing centres in New Zealand. Click here to view testing stations.
  • In Rarotonga, you can arrange a COVID-19 test at your own expense at Tupapa Primary Healthcare. Free testing is available at the local clinics/Punas. Click here to see the closest Clinic/Puna near you.  
  • COVID-19 tests are available strictly for travellers going to the Outer Islands/Pa Enua, at the Rarotonga International Airport testing station. A single RAT test cost $10 NZ dollars.
  • Please contact your usual GP in New Zealand for further information regarding testing centre. If you do not have an Auckland based GP, please contact Te Marae Ora on email: tmo.exemptions@cookislands.gov.ck
  • Ensure you have your mobile number and/or email address ready as this is how your COVID-19 test results will be sent to you. Please note that if you are travelling and need to present a negative COVID-19 test result, text messages may not be accepted. Click here to view travel criteria or visit our travel page.
  • If you require further assistance contact your GP. It will be the responsibility of the traveller to make the necessary arrangements and cover any associated cost with undertaking COVID-19 testing prior to departure. 
  • If you are presenting cold, flu or COVID-19 like symptoms 
  • If you have been to any locations of interest or are a close contact of a positive COVID-19 patient
  • If you have fallen under mandatory testing
  • If you are travelling.
  • You cannot travel directly to the Cook Islands from Australia (or any other country). You will be required to stay in New Zealand for 10 days.
  • Please check the New Zealand Government COVID-19 website for more international travel information.

Quarantine is required if you’ve been identified as a household or close contact of someone who’s tested positive for COVID-19. You will need to undergo tests, even if asymptomatic.

  • For households contacts: 7 day quarantine period
  • For close contacts: 7 day quarantine period

Isolation is required if you return a positive COVID-19 test. Isolation period is 7 days.