7 Mar 2020

'Courageous decision' to stop vessel visiting Cooks' Rakahanga

8:19 am on 7 March 2020

A Cook Islands MP says her constituency of Rakahanga has made a "courageous decision" in asking Hawaiian freight vessel Kwai not to call into port there because of fears over the coronavirus.

Cook Islands Democratic Party leader, Tina Browne

Cook Islands Democratic Party leader, Tina Browne Photo: Cook Islands Democratic Party

The vessel carries up to 200 tonnes of pallet cargo and usually services the northern group before calling into Rarotonga.

However, Ms Browne said she was told under no circumstances was the Kwai to stop over, despite the fact that it would be carrying much needed supplies for the island.

"The people there have said, 'don't worry about us, we'll survive on breadfruit and fish'."

Ms Browne said Rakahangans fully appreciated that anyone on the island infected by coronavirus could be catastrophic, due to isolation, the lack of medical facilities and supplies and the nearest doctor being on central Rarotonga.

"They just don't want to take any chances, and I'm very proud and respectful of this decision they've made to safeguard themselves."

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