20 Feb 2004

Cook Islands Health secretary doesn't consider lagoon a health risk.

4:38 pm on 20 February 2004

The Cook Islands Health Secretary, Vaine Teokotai, says he doesn't consider Titikaveka lagoon a health risk, despite announcing that symptoms experienced by locals are not soil-related but are in fact caused by a substance in the lagoon.

The findings by a World Health Organisation expert who is currently in the Cook Islands have prompted health officials to lift the warnings in place around the area and allow students to return to Titikaveka College.

Mr Teokotai says the Health Department is confident that their expert, the WHO's Russel Abrams, has identified the cause, and that the symptoms are not serious.

"It is the first time it has happened to us, hence the Government and associated departments are not able to quickly able to put a finger on the events that have happened...it's in the lagoon and there is nothing much you can do about it and if it occurs we are advising people to wash itoff with running water - that would alleviate any discomfort'"

Health Secretary Vaine Teokotai.

Meanwhile results from a second investigation undertaken by a New Zealand scientist are expected shortly.