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.
Our current island-wide testing push is proving to be a major success, with more than 400 people tested at each of our Terevete Park and Kavera Meeting House testing stations yesterday.
And while we are still confirming the exact numbers, at least several hundred more were also tested across our various government departments and in some of our larger private sector organisations yesterday as well.
Now that we are using RAT tests for our mass testing, most of the results from these tests are available within 15 minutes, and out of the more than 1000 people tested yesterday we have detected 13 more COVID cases, bringing us to a new total of 84 positive cases as of 10am this morning.
This is very encouraging news, and at the moment this result would appear to indicate that the virus is not yet spreading as fast as we thought it might be.
While it is important to note that we cannot always accurately predict how this virus will behave, if the spread really is more limited than we thought it would be at this stage, then this is likely due to both our very high vaccination rate and our continued observance of the national COVID-19 health and safety guidelines.
So, while some of you may be getting tired of hearing me say this, I am not going to get tired of saying it – if you or your eligible-age children have not yet been vaccinated, please consider doing so. It is a simple process that can make such a big difference – for both yourself and for our entire nation.
To all those who have already been vaccinated, thank you for taking this step, and thank you too to everyone who is continuing to wear their mask, continuing to keep physical distancing in mind, continuing to tag in with their CookSafe cards, and continuing to maintain good general hygiene.
You are all making a difference, and I think that is reflected in our COVID-19 case numbers to date.
Of our 84 positive cases, the first seven have now been released from isolation, with cases five, six and seven just being released today. So we have 77 active cases
We continue to have zero hospitalisation cases, and none have even progressed to the moderate symptom stage.
We also have a total of 160 close and household contacts still in quarantine, but starting today we are ending the quarantine requirement for close contacts and will only be quarantining household contacts – that is people living or sharing accommodation with positive cases – from now on.
For those already in quarantine as close contacts, I am sorry, but you will still have to complete your ordered seven-day quarantine period.
Overall, I am very pleased with how we are handling the COVID-19 situation so far, both as a government and as a people.
Our vaccination team have returned back from the Northern Group, and they will be back in action again on Rarotonga tomorrow on Friday, March 4, to administer more vaccines. So for those of you and your children wanting to be vaccinated or to receive your booster shot, these will be available from tomorrow.
For those aged 12 or over who need their first or second dose, as well as those aged 18 or over who need their booster dose, please go to the Nikao Social Centre between the hours of 9am and noon tomorrow.
From 1pm to 7pm tomorrow, the paediatric dose for our children aged 5 to 11 years will be available again for either the first or second dose, and this will also continue on Saturday, March 5, from 8am to 7pm.
Our island-wide RAT testing also continues today and tomorrow, with our drivethrough station at Terevete Park by the Punanga Nui open from 9am-3pm both days, and the Kavera Meeting House station open from 9am-7pm each day.
Our new testing station in the Ngatangiia Cook Islands Christian Church grounds is also up and running now – open from 1pm to 7pm today and from 9am to 7pm tomorrow.
If you have not already been tested for COVID-19, please get yourself to one of the testing stations before the end of Friday – it is important that we get as many people tested this week as we can.
And just a reminder, all forms of contact sport are currently suspended until 11.59pm on Sunday, March 6, as are gatherings of more than 50 people – although our schools, churches, restaurants, cafes and bars are exempt from this order as long as all COVID-19 health and safety measures are maintained.
OK, that’s all I have for you today, but for now I will be continuing to provide daily updates in-person each afternoon, and either myself or TMO will also provide periodic public updates on our COVID-19 test numbers and results as the situation in our country develops, as well as if any further new positive cases emerge.
May God continue to bless us all, and let’s continue to be positive and stay negative.
Kia orana tatou katoatoa, e kia manuia.
Hon Mark Brown