2 Mar 2019

Visitor brought dengue to Cook Islands, says govt

6:37 am on 2 March 2019

The Cook Islands government says a recent visitor to the country was infected with the dengue virus when he arrived in the capital, Rarotonga.

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Photo: 123RF

The Health Ministry, this week, declared a dengue outbreak following the confirmation of seven cases in February.

Secretary of Health, Dr Josephine Aumea Herman, says the declaration is partly due to people carrying the non-contagious disease into the country.

"We already have the mosquito that carries the dengue in the country. And obviously, what's happened is that someone that was infected with dengue flew into the country about a month ago and that's why we are having this outbreak now."

Of the seven cases, the ministry said one was a visitor from French Polynesia with dengue type 3, while the others were dengue type 1 and contracted locally.

It added that authorities have diagnosed four probable dengue cases this week, one of whom recently arrived from Fiji.

It is reminding the public to keep home and work environments clean and to safely dispose of water-retaining containers; to avoid mosquito bites by covering up, using repellents and screen doors, and to see a doctor if fever, pain behind the eyes, or muscle aches develop.

Last week, the Cooks enacted Operation Namu19, a whole of government and community clean-up-our-environment initiative aimed at destroying mosquito breeding and resting sites.

A large number of people participated, including at least 250 public servants.

Over 150 bags of general waste collected contained aluminium cans, tins, glass and plastic bottles.

Other items such as motor vehicle parts, tyres, whiteware and electronics equipment were removed.

In the wake of the dengue outbreak, Public Health officials will continue to undertake surveillance, awareness raising and closely monitor the situation including spraying of public areas such as schools.

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