15 Oct 2021

Māori health leader calls for level 4 'circuit breaker' lockdown to stop spread of Covid-19

11:31 am on 15 October 2021

National Māori Pandemic Group, Te Rōpū Whakakaupapa Urutā co leader Dr Papaarangi Reid said she was concerned about the trajectory of the outbreak in Auckland.

"We're at a very, very dangerous time in this outbreak in Auckland especially."

Te Rōpū Whakakaupapa Urutā-the National Māori Pandemic Group co-lead, Papaarangi Reid.

Te Rōpū Whakakaupapa Urutā co leader Dr Papaarangi Reid. Photo: E-Tangata

Professor Reid told Morning Report the group supported calls for a level 4 circuit breaker lockdown in Auckland, to give Māori a chance to increase vaccination rates.

"... a circuit breaker would be ideal, to go back to a sharp level 4 conditions to buy us some time to increase vaccination rates and to decrease the spread that's obviously happening in the community in Auckland."

But Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins has ruled out moving back to level 4.

Reid was concerned politics were being promoted over public health adding that a 95 percent vaccination rate would help everyone.

"Because if anybody, any group is getting sick at a disproportionate rate, they will be taking up places in hospital, they will be taking up beds in ICU, that when our friends and whānau have a heart attack or have a car crash they won't be able to access, get surgery done.

"It is in the best interest of the whole community that no subgroup in the community is left behind."

Yesterday, Health Minister Andrew Little said the capacity of ICU and HDU beds nationwide could be surged to 550 beds.

"If we had to provide additional surge capacity to convert beds for ICU-level care then as a result of the work that started at the end of last year the DHBs tell us they can surge that up to 550 beds - that would be at the cost of other treatment and other patient care."

Reid said some people were also taking longer to decide whether to get the vaccine.

"Different groups have different experiences, so for some people it's not relevant, they don't think Covid is real. They don't believe it's relevant in their lives. We see those people gathering at protests."

She put it down to the lack of suitable housing, mental health and addiction issues, and others who could not follow rules because they were in the cash economy and not subsidised by MBIE.

"... and that disproportionately falls on Māori. So whether or not you believe in how it was designed, we've got a different distribution of the population who are more likely to take longer to go through that decision-making process.

"That is beginning to change, but we still are several weeks behind in our catch up and we need that time."

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