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Dr Rawiri Taonui | Covid-19 Update for Māori 14 April 2020
Photo image supplied / Dr Rawiri Taonui

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Covid-19 Update for Māori 14 April 2020 | Further Decline in New & Active Cases | Decline in Testing | More Deaths | Aged Care | Efforts to Lift Māori & Pacific Testing | Treasury Economic & Unemployment Projections
Dr Rawiri Taonui


Total Cases

New Zealand has 17 new cases and 1366 in total. New cases continue a steady decline over 10 days (89-67-54-50-29-44-29-18-19-17).

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Deaths and Aged Care

There are 4 more deaths today. 3 are associated with the Rosewood cluster. Prayers and thoughts go to families. The Ministry of Health reports that there are 6 other aged care facilities with cases. None yet appears to be on the scale of Rosewood. This highlights the risk Covid-19 presents for aged New Zealanders particularly those with pre-existing conditions.

This reminds us that the risk age for Māori and Pacific Peoples is 10 to 15 years earlier than for Pākehā because that is when comorbidities like heart, respiratory, liver and kidney disease begin to affect members of our community. Those looking after kaumātua and mātua in our communities are crucial to their care and protection.

Recovered and Active Cases

628 people have recovered. Active Cases (the total of all cases less recovered) have fallen from 930 six days ago, to 803 yesterday and 738 today. A key time in flattening the curve will be when recovered cases pass the number of active cases.

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Total testing is at 64,400 or 12,880tpm (tests per million of population). This is very good compared to the average international tpm rate but not as high as several countries now over 20,000tpm. As expected, testing over Easter has dropped significantly with just 1,572 tests yesterday. Australia reports similar and the observation that social distancing is leading to fewer colds and flu for this time of year. Again, this urges caution over the good figures for the low number of new and active cases. Testing this week will confirm whether we have truly flattened the curve.

Treasury Post-Covid-19 Scenarios

Treasury has released several scenarios about what the post-Covid-19 economic and employment world will look like for New Zealand.

If no additional fiscal support measures are added to the approximate $20 billion of direct support already announced, Treasury predicts that GDP to March 2021 will fall between 13% to 30%, and, unemployment rise to between 13% to 26%.

Each scenario depends on how long we stay at Alert Level 3 or 4. The best scenario is that we stay at Alert Level 4 for 4 weeks, then Alert level 3 for 4 weeks and a mix of Alert Levels follow depending on what happens with Covid-19. The worst is if we need to stay at Level 3 and 4 for a long continuous period over several months or up to a year.

If an additional $20 billion or $40 billion in fiscal support ($40 to $60 billion in total) is injected into the economy, GDP will be higher and unemployment lower.

While it is clinical to discuss the economy and employment during the epidemic, it is also important. The highest rate of unemployment in New Zealand was 20% during the mid-1930s Great Depression. Later peaks occurred during mid-1980s Rogernomics and an 11% peak during early 1990s during Ruthanomics.

These times were especially difficult for Māori and Pacific communities. During the mid-1980s Māori unemployment was 4 times higher than for non-Māori and Pacific 3 times higher. Māori unemployment reached 25% in 1992 and our youth rate in some regions exceeded 50%. While we need to stay focussed on the current crisis, we must also prepare for an uncertain future.

Māori Cases

There is 1 new Māori case and 112 in total. We remain at 8.2%.

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Pacific Peoples Cases

There are 3 new Pacific cases and a total of 61. Pacific are 4.5% of all cases. This incremental increase is of concern as it nears the 6.5% Pacific demographic on the Ministry model of population. Pacific leaders and community workers are unrelenting in their efforts to protect their communities. They require every possible assistance the government can give them.

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Risk Factor

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This graphic presents the number of cases by ethnicity against the ethnic demographics from the 2018 Census, which counts multiple identities, and the Ministry of Health population model that counts a single identity. The two figures establish a Range of Risk. Any percentage figure of positive cases approaching the lowest figure in the Range of Risk should be regarded as a concern.

Testing for Māori and Pacific Peoples

A survey of available data shows that Māori and Pacific were under-tested during the testing phase focussed on travellers and their contacts.

Yesterday, the Ministry announced a new focus on the regions and Māori communities. Healthline now asks if you are Māori or Pacific. Be positive about this. The aim is to ensure testing is at a level enough to detect Covid-19 in our communities. Given our historical risks, this is the right approach. Testing should be over-demographic. Again, the massive nation-wide effort from our communities has thus far prevented our becoming yet again the primary victims of another epidemic. Similar applies for Pacific.

There are now 70 CBACs, including many with mobile capacity. There are more Māori and Pacific operated sites. They are doing tremendous work. Whānau Ora Community Clinic in Wiri and South Seas Healthcare in Ōtara report that many more than half the people tested at these sites have been Māori or Pacific. There are now 14 CBACs in Auckland. Since 21 March they have tested more than 17,000 people around 20% of which have been Māori or Pacific. On the Ministry of Health and Census population models, we need this to be over 25%.


Noho haumaru stay safe and self-sovereign, Dr Rawiri Taonui


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