Passengers from NZ to Cook Islands test negative for Covid-19

Rarotonga Airport. Photo: Airport Authority Cook Islands

Dozens of international passengers who arrived in Rarotonga over the weekend have tested negative for covid-19, and have been released from supervised quarantine.

The group of 54 were passengers onboard the first Air New Zealand flight from Auckland to Rarotonga since the announcement of new community cases of Covid-19 in Northland and north of Auckland.

They arrived at the weekend and were advised to enter supervised quarantine in Arorangi for up to 14 days, having earlier been made to defer their flight from Wednesday to Saturday.


They all subsequently tested negative. Combined with confirmation from the Cook Islands Ministry of Health Te Marae Ora that there have been no new cases of Covid-19 in the community or managed isolation in New Zealand, the passengers have all been released from their brief stint in supervised quarantine.

The Cooks’ Secretary of Health Bob Williams checked in on the passengers during their quarantine stay and said the morale was very good.

“The passengers were allowed one hour of exercise time around the facility and I had the opportunity to have a chat with some of them, while social distancing as required, and they were just relieved to be back home and happy to comply with the rapid changes to their travel plans,” he said.

The next flight from Auckland to Rarotonga is expected to return back to the normal schedule with no quarantine expected at the end of the travel, Williams explained.

Te Marae Ora will base their decision on how to handle future incoming flights on the latest in New Zealand.

“The normal requirement is before you arrive in Rarotonga, within 96 hours of your departure, you need to obtain a negative Covid-19 test in Auckland, and when you arrive here, there’s a follow-up test, which normally takes place on day 6.

“We will decide how we proceed with the Covid-19 test on day 6 in the coming days as we continue to assess what’s happening in Auckland,” Williams said.

“The Cook Islands government puts measures like these in place to keep the Cook Islands Covid-19 free.

“Decisions are not made on a whim, but rather based on information, evidence, and knowledge to hand.

“Everyone has a role to play, whether that be following Te Marae Ora advice when travelling or practicing public health measures,” Williams said.

Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown Photo: Cook Islands Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Immigration

The 54 passengers will be required to have a follow-up Covid-19 test next weekend.

Prime Minister Mark Brown said the efforts made by cabinet and Te Marae Ora to keep coronavirus out of the country is to be applauded.

“It’s important that we are able to demonstrate that we can pivot very quickly in the event of a community case testing positive, and we have responded appropriately to try and mitigate the risk of Covid-19 coming in to our country,” he said.

Source: RNZ