Covid-19 outbreak in Māori, Pasifika communities could be 'catastrophic', leading GP warns

An Auckland GP says the latest community case of Covid-19, found in Northland on Sunday, is a “great reminder” for people to keep up their coronavirus vigilance amid the pandemic.

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Te Rōpū Whakakaupapa Urutā’s Dr Rawiri Jansen says the impact of Covid-19 is disproportionately greater in Māori and Pacific communities. Source: Breakfast

“We see sometimes people dialling it down. Now’s a great time to be dialling it back on,” Te Rōpū Whakakaupapa Urutā National Māori Pandemic Response Group’s Dr Rawiri Jansen told Breakfast.

This meant remembering to keep up hand washing, QR code scanning and mask-wearing, he said.

“We know them so well from last year.”

Although people faced long queues to get tested for Covid-19 yesterday, Rawiri said he was “really confident” New Zealand was responding in the right way.

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Testing facilities were also strained in Auckland today, as officials revealed more clues as to how the case might have originated. Source: 1 NEWS

He said it was vitally important to keep Covid-19 contained because it could have “catastrophic” results on communities, Māori and Pacific ones in particular.

“We do not want this to get into Māori communities anywhere,” Jansen said.

“The impact of Covid is much greater in these [Māori and Pacific] communities.

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“And it’s not because we have anything genetic that makes us different. But, we have very different access to the determinants of health.”

Inequalities in housing, income and the health system all contributed to this, he said.

Jansen said fixing the issue would first come down to recognising Māori were “really active” in setting up protections for their communities against Covid-19 and in pandemics of the past, like smallpox.

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“We should notice that and make sure that we are continuously engaging with Māori communities for the best outcome.

“That’s the model for a whole lot of things we should be doing in our health system.”

Yesterday, the Ministry of Health confirmed the Northland woman who contracted Covid-19 has the more transmissible South Africa variant of the virus.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said the source of the 56-year-old woman's infection was likely from another returnee in managed isolation at Auckland's Pullman Hotel.