Covid 19 Update: Public responsibility sought to control the spread while the health department focus on managing positive cases
There are 127 active cases of Covid 19 from yesterday’s report Tuesday 10th January 2023. Fourteen new cases were detected yesterday and 29 previous cases were recorded as having recovered.
The number of active cases of Covid 19 has remained above 100 since the 20th of December.
On the 21st of December 2022, the government updated the isolation protocols limiting mandatory isolation to positive cases only. This meant that close contacts or household contacts that had not tested positive were no longer required to isolate but they are required to complete daily RAT tests for five days. The changes also mean that the health department will no longer be contact tracing and will focus on the management of active cases.
In delivering the updated protocol to the Fono Ekepule in December, Minister of Health Hon. Sauni Tongatule said that the decision to lift the mandatory isolation for close contacts was because many families were not able to provide supplies for their households if everyone were in isolation.
Minister Tongatule also confirmed that the government will not be considering the option of lockdowns. The Health Department’s response is to call on the public to take responsibility for the management of the number of infections by following recommended precautionary methods like social distancing, wearing masks and getting tested.
Director General of Health and Social Services, Gaylene Tasmania confirmed to BCN News that they are seeing a number of re-infections in this outbreak and are pushing the message for the public to maintain precautionary measures, to mask up in public gatherings and while indoors.
Community transmission was detected in November and quickly overwhelmed the services of the Niue Foou hospital forcing the Health Department to reduce some of their services.
A support medical team of doctors and nurses from New Zealand’s Pasifika Medical Association arrived in November and December to help with the staff shortages.
The Health Department has also updated its Covid-19 dashboard, reporting on the number of infections per village. Of the fourteen villages in Niue, only the village of Namukulu remains Covid free. Namukulu is the smallest village with fewer than ten residents but most of the people are elderly.
The largest village Alofi South has the most active cases detected, followed by Tamakautonga and Vaiea.
The impact of local community transmission has also affected the private sector with several businesses having to close down for several days over the festive season. Many businesses on the island are family-run businesses which often means people living in one household.
The only petrol station on the island has also had to reduce their opening hours because of staff shortages.
Passengers arriving weekly from New Zealand are still required to provide pre-departure RAT tests and complete a Travel declaration to be allowed into Niue. The passengers are tested on day one and day three but are free to go about their business, wearing their masks while in public places until they have cleared their day three tests.
Since December 2022, two people were hospitalised due to Covid 19 and one patient who had previously tested positive was medivacced to New Zealand.
Rapid antigen test (RAT) kits are available from the health department for households that have active cases but the government has not distributed free RAT kits as it did with free masks and Covid-preparation packs distributed last year to every household.
The drive-through testing clinic is available from Mondays to Thursdays 9 am to 12 midday.
Since March last year, 694 people were tested positive on the island.
Niue is one of the most vaccinated countries in the world with 99.4 percent of people 12 years and older fully vaccinated and 93 percent of people 18 years and over have received their booster.