WorldThe paradisiac archipelago that resists the coronavirus and still...

The paradisiac archipelago that resists the coronavirus and still does not register cases after two years of pandemic

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In early December, the Cook Islands – an archipelago of 15 islands in the South Pacific – panicked for days. The small country of about 18,000 inhabitants had announced its first positive case of coronavirus: a 10-year-old boy who had flown from Auckland to Rarotonga, the country’s main island.

There were residents who thought about closing their businesses, worried about the implications for a tourism industry that suffered the impact of the pandemic. But later, the health authorities announced that the case was a false positive. Although the boy had recorded two proofs of Covid-19 “Weak positives” while in quarantine, his final test came back negative and it was considered not a contagion. The country is still considered Covid-19 free by the World Health Organization (WHO).

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“We are fortunate that our entry protocols detected this possible case, and we have followed our protocols achieving this satisfactory result. But it also emphasizes the need to remain vigilant ”, Health Secretary Bob Williams said at the time.

The Islas Cook almost two years passed without covid-19, and islanders can live with pre-pandemic freedoms. The country, dependent on tourism, closed its borders to international travel, with devastating economic implications (tourism contributes more than two-thirds of GDP), but kept the coronavirus at bay and has already vaccinated more than 96% of its adult population.

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But the alarm over that false positive raised concerns about how the Cook Islands will cope when borders are reopened and international travel resumes, as planned, in mid-January. An attempt at a travel bubble with New Zealand earlier this year, which saw tourists briefly return to the Cook Islands, came to a halt just weeks after the Auckland government began reporting cases of the delta variant. The small country only has 22 doctors and two respirators, so it took extreme precautions so that the coronavirus does not enter.

The paradisiacal beaches of the Cook Islands.  (Youtube/).

The Cook Islands were recognized as the best tourist destination to visit in 2022 by the Lonely Planet guide, for its topicality, sustainable tourism and surprise factor. The Best in Travel award judges particularly praised the ocean nation for creating Marae Moana, one of the largest marine parks in the world.

“We look forward to welcoming visitors to our little paradise soon,” said Halatoa Fua, Executive Director of the Cook Islands Tourism Corporations.

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