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'We must be ready' - NZ's Pacific communities urged to prepare for Covid-19 outbreak

The chairman of primary healthcare service Pacific Health Plus and the Pacific Leaders Group, is urging Pacific communities to prepare in case of a wider Covid-19 outbreak.

Covid-19 testing clinic in Auckland. Source: Getty

John Fiso issued the warning today after four family members of a Pasifika family yesterday tested positive for the potentially deadly virus.

“Medical and other resources must be quickly assessed and mobilised to ensure our communities, and providers within those communities, are ready to combat what could be a worst case scenario for our Pacific families in high density areas,” said Mr Fiso.

“With news of transmission in South Auckland - where New Zealand’s largest Pacific population lives - further spread of the deadly Covid-19 in our most vulnerable communities could become a reality - and we must be ready.

“The effects of an outbreak on our close knit Pasifika communities with all of the challenges they already face - job losses, low incomes, multiple family members in condensed housing, and our country’s worst health statistics - has the potential to be catastrophic for this group of New Zealanders."

He also called on the Government to step-up after what he says were missteps in the past.

“Unfortunately when our Pacific communities have been confronted with contagious diseases or viruses in the past, such as measles and rheumatic fever, our country’s response and support has not been good enough.

“This cannot happen this time. We need all hands on deck - fanau, communities, providers, agencies, and importantly - our Government.

“This Government enjoys the most loyal support from the Pasifika population in New Zealand - now is the time to repay that loyalty in their time of need."

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Pakilau Manase Lua spoke with 1 NEWS Pacific Correspondent Barbara Dreaver. Source: Breakfast

His comments come as multiple workplaces connected to the South Auckland family with Covid-19 have been shut down, with around 290 close contacts already confirmed.

The woman's workplace is a finance company in central Auckland while her husband's workplace is a cool store in the city's south.

Speaking in a press conference today, Dr Ashley Bloomfield confirmed the workplaces have been shut down.

"The person only has close contact in a small team but we are treating everyone in a workplace which has now been shut down. It's a finance company and all are being followed up and tested," said the Director-General of Health.

Those working at the father’s workplace have also been contacted, with "around 160" close contacts identified.

The man works the night shift at the cool store which has four sites across the region, all of which have been shut down, Dr Bloomfield said.

Three of his colleagues are symptomatic, and are currently awaiting their Covid-19 test results.