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Disrupted passengers and visitors

“Continuing with the precautionary approach the Cook Islands government has taken since this pandemic began, a number of passengers were off-loaded from the flight to Rarotonga that arrived Wednesday 23rd June” Secretary of Health Bob Williams stated a short time ago.

“As most people will be aware, travel between New South Wales and New Zealand was paused earlier this week. And from 6pm on the 23rd NZ time the wider Wellington region which includes Wellington, Wairarapa and the Kapiti Coast up to north of Otaki moved to Alert Level 2 until, at this stage, 11.59pm Sunday 27th June, (NZ time)”.

“These actions were taken because a tourist from Sydney who travelled to Wellington, arriving there early morning Saturday 19th June (NZ time), and who returned to Sydney mid-morning on Monday 21st June (NZ time), tested positive for COVID-19 upon his return to Sydney”.

The results of the traveller’s genome testing are not yet known, but officials are presuming he has the Delta variant and that he likely contracted the virus in Sydney, where today parts of the city have moved into lockdown after another 22 cases were confirmed.

“On the advice of my officials, and as I said earlier, in continuing with the precautionary approach the Cook Islands has taken for the last 15 months, I took the decision early yesterday morning to off-load passengers who had travelled from Wellington during the time the “Sydney case” was in Wellington in order to catch yesterday’s flight to Rarotonga. This was in line with Wellington Airport having been listed as a ‘location of interest’. I make no apologies for taking this decision. I do apologise to the passengers who were off-loaded in error and for the stress and uncertainty it caused all off-loaded passengers”.

“I also apologise to those visitors currently in Rarotonga who have had their holidays temporarily disrupted – sometimes in the middle of the night – so that members of my staff could swab them. These tourists have mostly been 100 per cent supportive of our efforts and for this I am extremely grateful”.

“I am also grateful for the co-operation of resort and private accommodators who have worked with Te Marae Ora and assisted with locating and getting messages to their guests”.

“I can confirm that 124 people have been tested within the last 24 hours, all have returned negative results for COVID-19”.

“This will likely not be the last time travel under the Quarantine Free Travel arrangement between New Zealand and the Cook Islands is disrupted. Disruptions do need to be factored into everyone’s plans”.

“If there are any passengers who Te Marae Ora hasn’t tracked down and who have visited a location of interest listed here…/covid-19-contact-tracing… I ask them to please call the Te Marae Ora (TMO) 24 hour Healthline on +682 20065 or +682 20066 as soon as possible”.

“Can I also stress how important it is to truthfully complete the Health Declaration Form and the Arrival cards”.

“Our systems have been tested again this week and have worked but we have also learned from this test and will be making some adjustments to our processes”.

Te Marae Ora is continuing to monitor the situation in Wellington.

ENDS: Enquiries to Jaewynn McKay +682 55486;