Covid 19 Preparations

There was a time in the past when our people use to complain about the island’s isolation, but there were also those who considered that isolation as a form of protection. These days of rapid jet-age travel, the buffer zone is no longer there…and so it is with Covid 19. With the whole world in pandemic-mode, our small island is on high alert. It is entirely possible that it will only be a matter of time before the corona-virus gets here, but thankfully for us, there’s a heck of a lot of people who are going to try and stop it.

It is clear that there is only one likely way that the virus can be introduced to the island…by in-coming passengers via the airport. And this is where the folks on the mainland are helping us. As from today Tuesday 17 NZ Time, all travellers to Niue will be required to undergo screening by public health officials at Auckland airport. Anyone showing signs of illness, such as a high temperature will not be permitted to travel.

The CEO of the Ministry of Social Services Gaylene Tasmania said passengers arriving on the Friday flight from Auckland will be asked to restrict their contact and avoid large gatherings.

“At this stage people travelling from New Zealand are considered low-risk so our public health officials will be at the airport to provide them with the necessary information.” High risk is when there is community transmission of the virus. No such case has so far been reported in New Zealand.

It takes time for the virus to take hold – the so called incubation period of 5 to 7 days – so any recent arrivals are asked to contact the health department at the first sign of illness.

In the meantime public health officials are continuing their community education with village based sessions.  Grizelda Mokoia who heads the public health team is encouraging people to attend these sessions.

“We’re dealing with a bad virus, so I would strongly recommend that as many people as possible attend these village sessions so that they can have a clear understanding of what to do to avoid it and prevent it from spreading”.

Mokoia confirmed that the Health Department is expecting a supply of Rapid Test Kits this Friday but a more thorough testing will still be required to be carried out in New Zealand.

In the past week there had been intensive consultations with WHO and NZ Ministry of Health officials on a strategy to deal with the corona-virus. There is also regular contact with the NZ Ministry each week.

At this stage, the message from the Ministry of Social Services and its Health Department is for the community to exercise good personal hygiene, attend the village sessions and don’t panic.

With a good local health team at the forefront and a number of health professionals in New Zealand keeping a close eye on the island, there’s an even chance of stopping Covid 19 from making landfall.

It might also be an idea to self-isolate for 14 days from social media.