Rarotonga rolling out preparations as border opens to Kiwis tomorrow

With the Cook Islands border officially opening to Kiwis from tomorrow the country is swinging into action, preparing for its first visitors in more than a year.

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The country is gearing up for its first visitors in more than a year. Source: 1 NEWS

Safety measures including a Covid vaccination programme are being implemented as the first tourists are expected to arrive in two days.

The Chamber of Commerce is under the pump helping businesses prepare but pleased with the uptake of the CookSafe tracing system.

“CookSafe is working really well, we’ve had 165,000 tag ins to date and we’ve had about 1800 downloads of the new CookSafe app,” says Chamber of Commerce President, Fletcher Melvin.

It won’t be just visitors coming in on the first flight though with the Pfizer vaccine will also be on board.

“That’s the beauty of our situation because of the small population, the team expects our population to get fully vaccinated in twelve weeks,” says Cook Islands Prime Minister, Mark Brown.

Rarotonga hospital is preparing for the vaccination rollout which kicks off on Wednesday. Three New Zealand nurses are already on the ground providing support to local staff and more will be coming in on the first flight.

The Ministry of Health is expecting to vaccinate 530 people a day but they have the capacity to do up to 600.

It comes as medical facilities have undergone and upgrade as part of preparations.

The PCR specialist lab to improve the Cook Islands Covid-19 testing capability is up and running and a CT scanner is expected next month.

“So far, with the workforce we have right now it’s enough to hold while we are still waiting for some more to arrive from Fiji. We know the situation in Fiji, so that delayed it a bit more,” says Secretary of Health, Bob Williams.

Medical services have been kept busy with a dengue outbreak - so far, there have been more than 300 cases.

A major clean-up is underway around Rarotonga to get rid of mosquito breeding sites.

“We will be doing some spraying because of the heavy downpour some of the septic tanks have been filled up so that will start from next week as well,” Williams says.