The Cook Islands has declared an outbreak of Dengue fever in the community.
At midday yesterday NZDT, Cook Islands prime minister Mark Brown said there had been eight confirmed cases of the mosquito-borne disease.
The prime minister said there would be an "island wide operation" to clear out mosquito breeding sites, following the return of results from New Zealand LabPlus.
"It's really important we get on top of this latest outbreak as soon as we can, first on Rarotonga, and then the Pa Enua," he said.
Te Marae Ora the Cook Islands Ministry of Health, estimated there had been around 60 cases since the beginning of 2021, a frightening pace of transmission. Last year there were just over 140 presumed cases.
"Numbers of presumed cases for this year are likely to rise above last year's cases unless we act promptly" the Prime Minister said.
Mosquito reduction and habitat clearing would begin on Rarotonga, and then the Pa Enua.
Dengue fever is endemic to sub-tropical climates and parts of the South Pacific. Carried by female mosquitoes, the insects transmit the Dengue virus when drawing blood from humans. Travelling up to half a kilometre from the place where they spawn, high incidents of transmission occur when vegetation and standing water are found close to built-up areas.
"Our people cannot be too cautious when it comes to mosquitoes"said Bob Williams the Cook Islands' secretary for health.
Last year, Operation Namu focused on clearing mosquito breeding sites from Rarotonga.
An MFAT spokesperson told the Herald that the Dengue outbreak would not affect New Zealand's position in ongoing travel negotiations.
"We need to do the work carefully to ensure risks are low. Preventing Covid-19 from entering the Cook Islands remains a priority for everyone."
The New Zealand Safe Travel website has not changed its current advice on Dengue fever, saying best precautions are to avoid mosquitoes and that the virus "cannot be spread directly from person to person."
The Cook Islands Ministry of Health told the Herald "a dengue fever outbreak will not affect the QFT-A between New Zealand and the Cook Islands."
New Zealand and the Cook Islands recently established a safe travel corridor, with travellers arriving from Rarotonga not requiring to quarantine for Covid-19.
This 'travel bubble' was temporarily suspended last week following cases of Covid-19 in the Auckland and Northland. On Sunday the travel bubble resumed following reassurance there was "no evidence of community transmission", said Williams.
Currently no travellers other than Cook Islands citizens or residents may travel to the islands from New Zealand.