The Cook Islands takes one step closer to a safe travel bubble with New Zealand, as it launches its own Covid-19 tracing app CookSafe+.
Developed by Rush – which created the NZ Covid Tracer app with New Zealand's Ministry of Health – it will be available to Cook Islands residents and New Zealanders, visiting the islands.
"The CookSafe+ app is an essential step on our path to safe and streamlined two-way quarantine-free travel with New Zealand," said Cook Island PM Mark Brown.
The Islands anticipate the new app and the opening of a PCR lab will allow them to effectively trace and test air passengers arriving on Rarotonga. Previous tests had to be sent off-island for processing.
The Islands' new system is cross-compatible with New Zealand's app. A sign that the Islands anticipate travel between the countries is imminent.
However, visitors to the Cook Islands will be required to download the CookSafe+ app separately to use it while abroad.
"CookSafe+ helps us enhance our contract tracing goal and its compatibility with the NZ Covid Tracer app is of vital importance to the opening of a travel bubble between our two countries," said Brown.
The launch comes the day before Brown's first visit to New Zealand as prime minister, having taken on the role in September 2020.
As his first overseas engagement, a proposed safe travel corridor is likely to be high on the agenda.
On Friday Brown will meet for face to face talks with PM Jacinda Ardern in Auckland, followed by meetings with New Zealand's ministers for Finance and Covid-19 Response, Grant Robertson and Chris Hipkins.
The trip to New Zealand will conclude next week with meetings with other Pacific islands representatives and Air New Zealand chief Greg Foran.
Earlier today the Cooks PM published a column in the Cook Island News saying he would go all-out to return tourists to the Islands:
"If the tourists are not able to bring money into our country then our workers will go and look for that money overseas," he wrote.