25 Mar 2022

Niue aims to contain and eliminate the virus says Premier

5:13 am on 25 March 2022

Four new cases of Covid-19 have been detected at the Niuean border in relation to an Air New Zealand flight on Monday.

A historic case was also detected. This case was not included in the official Niuean Covid figures, as the patient contracted Covid in New Zealand and recovered before arriving in Niue.

Director General of Health Gaylene Tasmania said the total number of border cases stands at five.

"It's just getting a bit harder for us to keep it out [and] delay it from entering, so we will just manage it as best we can," she said.

The cases were detected in a group of 38 passengers. Although testing negative prior to departure, the four returned positive results at the Niuean border.

Two children under the age of three were on the flight but have not been tested and are asymptomatic.

There are no known community cases in Niue.

Gaylene Tasmania said Cabinet has approved changes in pre-departure PCR testing for passengers leaving New Zealand.

Travellers are now required to have a PCR test 48 hours before departure, instead of 72 hours.

A supervised RAT test is now required at the airport as well.

"[We are] tightening our pre-departure travel restrictions and pre-departure testing, things like that at the New Zealand end to try and keep it there. But we have to accept that some will come through and we will deal with it as best we can," Tasmania said.

Niue Premier, Dalton Tagelagi

Niue Premier, Dalton Tagelagi Photo: RNZ Pacific / Jamie Tahana

The national alert codes were updated on March 22 and the island is now under Alert Level Yellow.

The Premier of Niue Dalton Tagelagi said Niue will aim to contain and eliminate the virus in quarantine.

"We have already managed this virus with our first confirmed case in early March, and we will eliminate its spread by not letting it out of quarantine. We must all continue to be vigilant and do all the things asked of us as well as support each other at this time," Tagelagi said.

New Zealand PMA team visits Niue

A Pacific Medical Association (PMA) team from New Zealand has completed a 4 week stint in Niue, bringing PPE supplies and RAT test kits.

Auckland University Associate Professor Colin Tukuitonga has been advising Niuean health authorities throughout the pandemic.

SPC Director-General, Colin Tukuitonga.

Dr Colin Tukuitonga Photo: Pacificwomen.org

He said the team's arrival was well timed, as they were in Niue when the first case of Covid-19 was detected in MIQ, 2 weeks ago.

"They helped out with people on the flights, management on arrival at the airport, procedures on testing in isolation facilities, training and support updated for front line nurses in terms of PPE use, discussions on isolation requirements," Dr Tukuitonga said.

He said Niue has 'pretty much' kept Covid out for two years clearly needed to update procedures to respond to Omicron.

He said even 10 cases would spell trouble.

"It isn't going to take many cases to put pressure on the local health authorities and this is part of the discussions with PMA, what to do in the event of an outbreak and how to provide additional support to Niue. Arrangements for transport for really sick people back here to Auckland if necessary," Tukuitonga said.

The Government of Niue reminds residents that mask use is essential as well as the use of 'Rocksafe' for contact tracing.

Government health & safety guidelines:

  • Practice and maintain good personal hygiene - regularly washing hands and coughing or sneezing into elbows.
  • If you start to experience any Covid-19 symptoms, stay home and call Niue Foou Hospital.
  • Be prepared for changes in our alert levels and act fast if needed.
  • Stock up on PPE and other resources in preparation for any alert level change