The Hon. Prime Minister Henry Puna is pleased with progress announced by the council tasked with National Disaster Risk Management (DRM). The DRM Council met today to review and strengthen nation-wide plans to address Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). There are almost 90,000 cases reported globally in 64 countries, and over 3,000 deaths. While the Cook Islands has not reported a case of COVID-19, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has assessed the risk of the global spread of COVID-19 as ‘Very High’. The DRM council has signaled additional support to the National Health Emergency Taskforce which has been leading the national response to COVID-19 since January 2020. In attendance today at the Te Marae Ora Cook Islands Ministry of Health (TMO) Emergency Operations Centre were senior officials representing the Police Service, Tourism Corporation, and Ministries of Health, Finance and Economic Management, Foreign Affairs and Immigration, Internal Affairs, Crown Law Office and Office of the Prime Minister. WHO and New Zealand Ministry of Health officials were present to offer advice. The aim of the Cook Islands Emergency Response Plan to COVID-19 (Plan) is to protect population health and minimise disruption to essential services. It will guide a nation-wide response that includes health and social interventions to reduce the impact of COVID-19, initiatives to strengthen community action through the Rarotonga Puna and Pa Enua DRM committees, and mobilisation of resources and finances. The Plan includes governance and decision-making processes, led by the Prime Minister and his Cabinet. It draws from the TMO pandemic plan incorporating the Disaster Risk Management Act 2007 and relevant Health legislation. The Plan will be finalised and released to the public tomorrow.
The Prime Minister has instructed senior officials to coordinate the national response with the Rarotonga Puna and our communities in the Pa Enua, non-government organisations, and the private sector.
“The success of our national response relies on clear and timely communications and engagement with everyone”, he says.