Managed or supervised isolation and quarantine (MIQ) facilities cost the nation more than $2 million.
Figures provided to Cook Islands News show that $2,240,184 was spent to accommodate 1,156 people between March 2020 and August 2022.
Angelia Williams, director of the Major Projects and Procurement Support Division, Ministry of Finance and Economic Management (MFEM), said the expenditure was spread across five facilities.
This included KiiKii Motel, Ocean Resort and Spa and Edgewater Resort and Spa in Rarotonga.
Reef Motels and Tamanu Beach Resort were used in Aitutaki.
“The cost of providing these essential services is estimated to be approximately $2,240,184.00, with final numbers still to be confirmed,” Williams confirmed.
“In terms of cost recovery, $52,351.90 was recovered from those required to pay for MIQ facilities; this did not include costs recovered on repatriation flights in 2021.”
Efforts continued to collect the amount of debt owed, she said.
“A compassionate approach has been taken for families in the Cook Islands in financial difficulty.”
Williams said the total cost per person was about $1,400 for 14 days of isolation.
She said the costs have gone down as the period of isolation has also gone down.
“This amount has varied over the past two years, depending on the type of commitment, which was either managed or supervised isolation, or quarantine, or as part of repatriation work.
“This is a cost worth paying that has allowed individuals and families to return home and maintain public safety and trust.
“In due course, the full financial statements will be released.”
Cook Islands News asked Health Secretary Bob Williams if the money had been well spent.
Williams said the government has a responsibility to bring its citizens home.
“Of course, the government will have to absorb these costs through the MFEM.
“As we remember in 2020, the Cook Islands has had zero cases of Covid-19.
“All I can say is that the government has a response plan in place to keep Covid-19 out, and also to ensure the safe return of our people and the protection of our resident population.”