29 Aug 2020

Pacific Fono focus on family support amid Covid's harsh reality

8:39 am on 29 August 2020

The head of New Zealand's largest Pacific health service says not only is the Pasifika community at the centre of this latest Covid-19 outbreak, it's most likely going to be hit the hardest financially.

Tevita Funaki.

Tevita Funaki. Photo: Supplied/Pasifika Futures

There are now at least 131 active Covid cases with 11 people in hospital due to the Auckland outbreak.

The Fono's chief executive, Tevita Funaki, says they are mobilising medical support and other resources to Pacific families who have tested positive including those they have come in close contact with.

"Just getting the basic needs to these families, like food. We're also looking at a hardship assessment with these families whether they are close contacts (with those who have tested positive) or are members of these families," he said.

"I think the economic impact on Pasifika families will be quite high. People are losing their jobs and they work in industries which will have a major impact on them."

With the alert level due to drop from Level 3 to Level 2 at midnight Sunday, Tevita Funaki says the Fono will continue to assist those impacted by the pandemic in the community.

The Fono has almost 260 referrals for Pasifika families who have tested positive for the coronavirus and their close contacts.

Funaki said his staff are in daily contact with those who have tested positive these people need reassurance and comfort during this tough time.

"The families are nervous and there is a level of anxiety there," he continued.

"They need to know that this is not their fault. They should be applauded for getting tested and protecting our community.

"We are here to make sure the families are okay and that their economic and personal needs are catered for during this time."

Funaki said the Whānau Ora provider assisted with contact tracing and mobile testing, visiting homes and testing individuals who had been in close contact with those who tested positive.

For the 259 families forced into self-isolation and quarantine, he said the Fono is accessing each family and providing the various resources they require.

"Because these families have to stay home, they can't go out and do shopping. So part of the immediate assessment is the basic needs, like food so we provide them with food packages to get them by.

"The next concern is not being able to work and the worry about paying bills. We can provide some immediate financial support until we can connect them to services that can help them in the long term."

Funaki said the Fono is also able to assist families with children by providing nappies, sanitizing products and resources to help with their remote learning.

The government said it's continuing to work with Māori and Pacific agencies in Auckland to make sure the communities have the best health outcomes possible.