The Cook Islands has suspended all inbound air travel following the re-emergence of Covid-19 in New Zealand.
In a Government statement, the Cooks said they were enforcing an air border closure for inwards travel effective until 11.59pm Monday, August 17.
Following this, the next flight to Rarotonga from Auckland was on Friday August 21, and the Cook Islands government would convene before then to reconsider its air border closure.
The air border closure comes after a news report that a prominent Cook Islands doctor in Auckland has tested positive for Covid-19.
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The doctor, described as the “go-to” physician for Cook Islanders based in the City of Sails, was receiving treatment at Auckland City Hospital, 1 News reported on Friday night.
The doctor’s surgery was understood to be located close to Americold, the workplace of one of the cases at the centre of the Auckland cluster.
The first flight to be affected by the air border closure was on Saturday morning, from Auckland, and has been cancelled by Air New Zealand. It was a once-a-week service for returning residents and visa holders and was meant to have 30 passengers on board.
Air New Zealand chief executive officer Greg Foran said the decision was made not to carry passengers out of Auckland due to the city currently being at alert level 3.
“The Cook Islands has so far had no cases of Covid-19 and we want to make sure we are doing the right thing for both countries in terms of safety and wellbeing,” Foran said in a statement.
“That’s why we have taken the precautionary decision not to carry passengers out of Auckland on tomorrow’s service. We are contacting affected customers directly to let them know their options.”