Churches key to stemming spread of Covid-19 in Pasifika community

A South Auckland charity has launched a mass effort to get 40,000 face masks to the Pasifika community who urgently need them.

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Churches in the area have been linked to five new cases. Source: 1 NEWS

Top priority are South Auckland churches which have been linked to five new cases. 

With Pasifika making up 75 per cent of cases in this outbreak, the ASA Foundation knows these masks could save lives.

"We know what we need, so you will see community people like ourselves going out and delivering these masks to the people that need them," ASA Foundation chairman Tuala Tagaloa Tusani told 1 NEWS.

"We know them, we live amongst them, we are these people."

Ministers at 70 churches will now distribute 10 masks per family.

At a church in Mangere, one of the members tested positive and the minister himself is in isolation in his home.

"It was an instruction given to us by the Ministry of Health and after being tested negative, we are like a close contact so therefore we need to stay in our homes for two weeks," Reverend Victor Pouesi told 1 NEWS.

He says it's important for his community to show unity.

"When you go out to the public place, it's important we all wear masks."

Sourcing them hasn't been easy, with Manurewa's Community Group Pride Project, which supports vulnerable people, missing out on getting supplies until now.

"They've just been depleted so fast and many people out here don't wear masks at all," Melissa Atama from the Pride Project told 1 NEWS.

Affordability has been an issue, particularly for big families, putting some at risk.

"Food security is the biggest issue right now," Ms Atama said.

"It's on the top of their minds. Even accommodation, so masks are like down on the list."

The Congregational Christian Church of American Samoa is also desperate for its supply.

"This is 2,700 masks for the 10 parishes under Rev Mafutaga," Teleiai Edwin Puni of the Pacific Leadership Forum said.

Churches are the key to stemming the spread in the Pasifika community, and getting help from their own.