PM Announcement: COVID-19 Update, 21st March 2022

21 March 2022

A short time ago, Prime Minister Mark Brown addressed the nation. Here is his address:

Kia orana tatou katoatoa,

Here is today’s Covid-19 update for Monday, March 21.

Since our first case over a month ago, we have confirmed a total of 835 Covid cases in the Cook Islands as of 8am this morning – 831 in Rarotonga and four in Aitutaki.

Out of those 835 cases, 476 people have recovered and been released from isolation, so this leaves a balance of 359 cases that are still active – meaning we have now had more people recover from Covid-19 than are actually still active.

Our new case numbers held more or less steady over the weekend, with 51 people testing positive for Covid-19 yesterday on Sunday, March 20, and 46 on the Saturday.

Aside from our one moderate case, 834 of our 835 positive cases have experienced either mild symptoms only or no symptoms at all, and we still have zero people who have been hospitalised, which is very good news for us.

At this time our schools also continue to remain open for learning, and I would like to emphasise to everyone and especially to parents in particular that, thanks to the public health measures that we’ve put in place, school is still a safe place to be for both students and staff, despite the spread of Omicron in our community.

Schools have been preparing for this situation for a long time and have good plans in place to safeguard the continuity of learning, including preparing home-based learning packs and maintaining regular communication with affected families.

Although each school is unique and so slightly different approaches are required – which may include home learning where necessary – the health and safety precautions put in place by the Ministry means that parents can trust that school is a safe place for their children to be.

So if your child has completed isolation or quarantine, please allow them to return to school if their classes are still open, so that they can continue with their learning and interact with their friends and teachers again.

I would also like to pass on a special meitaki ma’ata to our teachers. The work being done by our schools and our teachers to allow home schooling and still keep schools open while minimising the spread of Covid-19 is much appreciated.

I know quite a few of you have been isolating as positive cases too, but the good news is that if teachers have tested positive and done their isolation and are no longer symptomatic, then they can go back to school confident that they will not get Covid again or spread it to anyone else.

In other Covid-related news, there are several prisoners at Arorangi Prison and also staff members as well who have now tested positive for Omicron, and Te Marae Ora has put a plan in place for managing these cases.

This was not unexpected, as it is difficult to keep infection from spreading in such an institution, and all those affected will have full access to whatever healthcare is necessary to treat their condition. The good news is that all of our inmates and wardens are fully vaccinated and protected, so we wish them all a full and rapid recovery.

Now to sport – unfortunately we cannot lift the suspension on contact sport just yet, although this is an issue that we will be revisiting within the next two weeks.

The best advice from our health ministry Te Marae Ora is that now is not the time to restart our sporting competitions, but this will change if the spread of Covid-19 remains relatively contained and within our capacity to manage.

So to all of our keen sportspeople – and keen supporters – please be patient while we work with your codes and administrators to work out a plan on how you can resume playing the sport you love while still doing your bit to contain the outbreak.

We will have a full resumption of contact sports as soon as it is practicable to do so.

And while there are still challenges that we continue to face as we carry on our work in managing this Covid-19 outbreak, I would like to remind everyone that each passing day brings us closer to a sense of normality – each day is just another step in our journey and each step brings us closer to being free of these restrictions.

So stay safe everyone, and may God continue to bless us all.

Kia orana e kia toa.

Hon Mark Brown Prime Minister