The message to those waiting in Auckland to return home is to take the precautionary measures very seriously, that’s what Robert BJ Rex told BCN news this week from MIQ at Homofiti.
“Your role is very important and you really have to do your part. Avoid travelling to pick up bits and pieces in New Zealand before flying back home especially to avoid travelling to places of interest. Just take it really seriously” says Rex.
“Don’t do those farewell dinners if you have received the notification that you will be returning home on the next flight”.
Robert Rex is one of the first 23 passengers to return to the island since Auckland went into lockdown nearly three months ago.
He has decided to take extra precautions by continuing into home isolation for three days after leaving MIQ on Monday next week. “Some of us have raised the possibility of doing more than two weeks in isolation because other islands are doing three weeks.”
“For me, I’m gonna go home. I’m not going straight and hug my Mum. I’m going to go home and spend a few days, maybe three more days on my own at home and I’ve already requested a Covid test at home probably on the 17th day” Robert Rex told BCN news via zoom yesterday.
He says that he fully understands that there are still many people on the island, who are fearful of what may happen with the resumption of passenger flights from Auckland given that the Delta variant community cases are still an issue in New Zealand. Robert Rex says that they are sharing their experiences with the authorities in government during their time in MIQ and it’s great to be helping them however he believes that the government’s messaging is still lacking in terms of informing the population that we have to be prepared not for the if but when this virus gets to Niue.
“I feel like the government needs to address this nation as say hey, we have come to the conclusion that we’re going to have to accept that this will get here one day. That means letting the people know that you’re going to expose this Delta variant to our under 12s, to our families with underlying health issues.
I just feel that we should always prepare ourselves for any worst-case scenario and that may build confidence in the people of Niue but for now, it’s still up in the air. There’s still a lot of work to do” says Robert BJ Rex.
Rex believes that setting up a Covid isolation unit at the Niuefoou hospital next to the Aged Care facility and very close to the children’s ward is the wrong decision.
“I think that’s wrong, if there’s a case, it should stay at this compound (MIQ at Homofiti) contain it here. Set it (Covid isolation unit) up here”.
Questions from BCN news to the Minister of Health last week on the Covid isolation unit but have yet to receive a response.
Chief of Police Tim Wilson is also in MIQ and is happy to be home along with Director-General of the Ministry of Social Services and Health Gaylene Tasmania.
Chief Wilson says that he can appreciate the fear of their returning home with the cases in Auckland but fear is also good and if the virus does get into Niue, then it is best to contain it at MIQ.
“Well I’ve always maintained that fear is good and not necessarily a bad thing, it’s good to be fearful because you try to make sure that you have all your precautions and protections in place to make sure that everyone is being kept safe that we’re doing everything we can to prevent this virus from reaching Niue and then if it were to get here, then to make sure that it stays here in quarantine and not to get out and infect everybody.”
He told BCN news that “None of us would’ve jumped on that plane if we thought that we placed a risk whatsoever to Niue because we don’t want to bring it back to our families and our friends and that the government has really good procedures in place in order to ensure that everybody is protected” says Tim Wilson.
Gaylene Tasmania says that in preparation for this first passenger flight in months, she and a retired Physiotherapist Moka Magatogia had to complete training in Auckland to be able to do health checks and assist another retired nurse Jane Nemaia who is conducting their nasal swabs in MIQ.
The passengers have completed three Covid tests in the last week, one test 72 hours before boarding the flight, a second test on the day they arrived in Niue and the third on day five. All 23 passengers have returned negative results.
Tasmania says that “Everybody is glad to be home, the mood is positive. We kept to our rooms in the first week but now in day eight we are starting to mix and mingle this week and socialise more”
Gaylene Tasmania wants to assure the people who are still fearful of the returning passengers, that everyone wanting to return home will not purposefully expose themselves and run the risk of bringing this virus home.
They are always going to ensure that they are protected first and foremost as individuals and it is never anyone’s intention to purposefully expose themselves to this virus. She says that the first line of defence is to be vaccinated and almost 100 percent of the eligible population of over 12 year olds on the island have been vaccinated.
Most of the passengers in MIQ had travelled to New Zealand several weeks ago for medical reasons and are just glad to return home.
There are at least two hundred residents stranded in Auckland including students who would want to return home at the end of the year.