18 Jun 2020

Cooks concerned about NZ Covid-19 cases but still keen on 'bubble'

1:28 pm on 18 June 2020

The Cook Islands prime minister says the new coronavirus cases in New Zealand are concerning.

Henry Puna

Henry Puna Photo: RNZ Pacific/ Johnny Blades

But Henry Puna said his country still plans to open its borders to New Zealand this week.

He told parliament it was clear someone in New Zealand made a mistake, but he was confident in his country's measures to remain Covid-19 free.

Mr Puna said he hadn't received any advice to say the border should remain closed as a result of the cases.

"We must continue to be vigilant in the control of our borders.

"We cannot afford to relax but we have every confidence in the abilities of our medical professionals to give us the best advice which has so far seen us through this Covid challenge," the prime minister said.

Mr Puna also said if the medical advice changed, then he would not hesitate to change plans.

Meanwhile a prominent Cook Islands businessman said he was still keen to open up borders with New Zealand, despite the latest cases.

The heavily tourism dependent country - which is part of the realm of New Zealand - had been calling for a travel bubble as soon as possible.

Fletcher Melvin, from the Cook Islands Private Sector Taskforce, said he still believed travel was possible if community transmission remained stamped out.

But he admitted the news had definitely rattled some locals.

"At this point if things go well and they can quickly contain this then we still think that it's viable and they can put some other things in place but there are people in the Cook Islands that are worried about it.

"They are still very worried about it and fair enough."

Mr Melvin said the economic situation from a lack of tourists was dire, and he believed the country's health system was up to the task of keeping Covid-19 at bay.

The President of the Cook Islands Chamber of Commerce, Fletcher Melvin

The President of the Cook Islands Chamber of Commerce, Fletcher Melvin Photo: CI Govt