The Cook Islands have recorded their first ever COVID-19 case, with a 10-year-old boy who arrived on a repatriation flight returning a 'weak positive' test Friday evening.
The child was one of 177 people on a flight that left Aotearoa Thursday, but officials say all others have returned negative results so far.
Weak positive tests typically suggest a historic case of the virus, or recent infection. Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown says the boy was able to board the flight because he had returned a negative pre-departure test on November 30.
The child was travelling with his mother who is fully vaccinated and two other siblings, none of the women’s three children are yet eligible to be vaccinated.
Brown said the family are isolating at the Edgewater resort and MIQ facility in Rarotonga and will remain there till they are no longer a risk of spreading the virus.
'I hope you will join me in wishing the family a speedy recovery' he said.
Brown says the fact the case was identified is evidence border controls are effective.
'The ability of this virus to cross borders can be seen worldwide, and that is why border workers wear Personal Protective Equipment and follow infection control procedures at work to eliminate the risk of catching the virus' he said.
The Cook Islands are currently preparing to reopen borders to Kiwi tourists for quarantine-free travel from January 14. Their population of 17,000 has among the highest vaccination rates in the world with 96 percent of those eligible double-dosed.
'I further reiterate the importance for all eligible members of our population to be vaccinated, to give us that added layer of protection against serious illness and possible death' Brown said.