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Prime Minister’s Address to the Nation


18 February 2022

Kia orana and good morning, everyone,

Some of you may have already heard or seen online that late yesterday afternoon/early evening we recorded our fourth confirmed positive case of Covid-19 in the Cook Islands.

This person is someone who arrived from New Zealand aboard NZ946 on Tuesday 15 February. The case was here to attend a family funeral.

Yesterday afternoon the case was contacted by a sibling in New Zealand who advised that they had just tested positive for COVID-19. As they had both been at a family dinner a few days earlier, the case was advised to get tested.

The case then went to RAT testing station at the airport where the test result came back positive. The case was advised to go home directly and await a call from Te Marae Ora.

The initial suggestion that the case was having a RAT because they were flying to Aitutaki, was incorrect, he went to the airport testing station to get a quicker result.

Public Health Nurses were then deployed to visit the household and to swab the case, together with 4 household contacts for PCR testing to confirm the RAT result. Only the case returned a positive PCR result.

The case who is currently symptomatic (Sore/scratchy throat, runny nose, headaches) is fully vaccinated (including the booster dose)

A 10-day Isolation Order has been issued and the person will be monitored and then released at the end of that 10-day period, providing they have been symptom-free for at least 72 hours beforehand.

The four household contacts will be tested again on day 5 and day 9 of their quarantine periods.

There are currently four locations of interest:

  • the flight the case arrived on from Auckland, NZ946 on Tuesday 15 February – rows 46 to 50. Affected passengers on that flight will be contacted this morning.
  • Sinai Hall where a family service was held that evening
  • Family home in Takuvaine on Wednesday 16 February and
  • Tupapa Gym also on Wednesday 16 February between 7pm and 8.30pm

We may also be adding more locations of interest to the list because of this new case, so keep an eye out for that information which will in the first instance be updated on the Te Marae Ora Facebook page.

Te Marae Ora has this far identified 34 close contacts – including 2 travellers who left for Aitutaki yesterday after receiving negative RAT test results. TMO will be contacting all these close contacts this morning. I urge these people to follow the advice from Te Marae Ora.

This is not an unexpected situation and as a country we are well prepared to deal with this.

First and foremost, our incredibly high vaccination rate – one of the best in the world – is protecting all of us right now by slowing down the transmission of this virus from person to person and in many cases halting it completely. Furthermore, for those vaccinated people who do contract Covid-19, it has been proven that the health impacts are reduced significantly.

So, we can all rest a lot easier knowing that 96 per cent of our eligible population 12 years and older have been fully vaccinated and 99 per cent partially vaccinated – an outstanding achievement for our entire nation.

With only the first dose so far made available to our 5–11-year-olds, they have yet to reach the high vaccination rates of our 12+ population though, so I would like to again urge all our parents and caregivers to give further serious thought to getting your younger children vaccinated. TMO will be making the paediatric vaccination first dose available again tomorrow. So please come along to the Nikao Social Centre and any family members and friends who are yet to complete of begin their COVID-19 vaccination programme.

As well as the protection vaccination affords, I also have the utmost confidence in the administrative systems and procedures we have in place to combat Covid-19.

Our health and safety protocols are doing their job and I am extremely pleased with the work being put in by TMO and across all of government and NGOs like the Red Cross to restrict the spread of this virus and protect our people both here in Rarotonga and in the Pa Enua.

Remember, we all need to work together to beat this thing, so mask up, tag in, social distance when you can and keep up those good hygiene habits!

May God bless us all.

Kia orana e kia manuia.

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