Covid-19 update: Government shift from alert levels and disaster response to health response as island transition to business as usual.

The government’s response to Covid-19 is shifting from alert levels and disaster response to health response and recovery as the island transition to business as usual, following the plan put in place at the beginning of the pandemic, the Niue Emergency Response Plan to Coronavirus Disease 2020.

In a press release issued this morning, the government announced a shift from covid disaster response to recovery, stating that for the past three years the government has been guided by this plan and is now moving to recovery mode.

 “The recovery stage is also referred to as the post-event and is triggered when “the disease is declining and can be managed under normal business arrangements.

“The transition from emergency response to ‘business as usual.  This does not, however, mean there is no response.  Instead, it means this will transition to a health response and not a disaster response while Niue moves toward “business as usual”.

The shift from alert levels will not change the pre-departure travel requirements for people wanting to travel to Niue. One must be fully vaccinated and must provide a negative PCR test result taken within 48 hours of travel to Niue, and must obtain a Niue Travellers Pass by completing the forms on the Niue COVID-19 website

It is not clear what this recovery stage means in practical terms, particularly for passengers who, since quarantine-free travel in June this year, volunteer to isolate themselves after arriving on island. 

Yesterday, after day 1 PCR tests of the passengers from Monday’s flight detected one positive case.

The government says that the health system is now prepared to deal with the virus and its effects, given the measures undertaken in the past three years to delay the entrance of the virus to the island. 

“Niue’s COVID response has been one of the most effective in the entire world.  We were able to delay the entry of COVID in Niue for more than two (2) years.  Since that time, we have been able to effectively eliminate the Omicron variant of COVID multiple times.  This is a feat that only Niue has accomplished.

The government believes that the Niue Health department is better prepared to respond to Covid-19 highlighting some of the preparations over the past two years of;

  • One of the highest vaccination rates in the world (including boosters)
  • A new isolation ward at Niue Foou Hospital
  • Developed health protocols to treat and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the community
  • New medical equipment to assist in the treatment of COVID patients
  • A robust testing regime both prior to and after arriving in Niue
  • Robust border controls in an attempt to keep the virus out of Niue, and
  • Introduced new methods of contact tracing.
  • Since the introduction of COVID to Niue, the Niue Health Department has identified 80 positive cases, most at the border.  These cases were all treated effectively with no hospitalisations or serious complications.  In fact, all COVID cases in Niue have experienced either no symptoms or mild symptoms similar to influenza. 

Niue has experienced one (1) community spread event.  With the help of RockSafe and traditional contact tracing methods, cases were quickly identified and isolated within a few days and the community spread was limited to under 20 people.  This demonstrates Niue’s ability to effectively manage COVID cases both at the border and in the community”.

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