The Cook Islands Ministry of Health declared that as of Thursday, February 27, individuals having traveled from or through 16 designated countries or territories in the 14 days prior to scheduled arrival in the Cook Islands will be denied entry in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). The affected countries and territories include: China, Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Italy, and Iran. The entry ban is due to be reviewed weekly. The Ministry of Health also advised Cook Islanders and residents against non-essential travel to the aforementioned areas.
As of February 27, officials have not confirmed any cases of COVID-19 in the Cook Islands. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected in the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On February 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the risk of spread and the risk of impact of the virus is "'very high' at global level."
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Potentially affected individuals are advised to monitor the situation, confirm travel itineraries and entry requirements prior to travel, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities.
To reduce the general risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water
- When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue - throw tissue away immediately and wash hands
- If you have fever, cough, and difficulty breathing seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your health care provider
- Adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments
In the case that symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness emerge either during or after travel, travelers are encouraged to seek medical attention and share their travel history with their health care provider. Travelers returning from China, South Korea, Italy, and Iran who develop symptoms of pneumonia are advised to call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to avoid potential spread of the disease.