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COVID guidance ignores Maori health profile

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There’s a call for the Government to update its risk profiles for COVID-19 in light of the current experience with the South Auckland cluster.

Two people connected to the cluster died on Friday – former Cook Islands prime minister and south Auckland general practitioner Dr Joe Williams, who was 85, and a man in his 50s who worked at the Americold coolstore where the outbreak was first detected.

Historian Dr Rawiri Taonui from the Auckland University of Technology, who has been analysing pandemic statistics for the website, says the age profile for the cluster includes many Māori and Pasifika people over 50.

Statistically a lot of them are likely to have pre-existing conditions such as heart disease, diabetes or respiratory conditions which means they have a greater risk that other populations of the same age of dying if they get COVID-19.

"Australia has an explicit caution that any indigenous person aged 50 years or more with one medical condition is at risk. In New Zealand we say Māori and Pasifika under 70 years of age who might have a health condition are at risk. It's 50 years old," Dr Taonui says.

Five new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed yesterday.

One is an imported case detected in a managed isolation facility and four are community cases linked to the Mt Roskill Evangelical Church group sub-cluster.

The total number of active cases is now 116, of which 39 are imported cases and 77 are community cases.

There were four people in hospitals, including one in ICU in Waikato Hospital.

In what says is a reflection of evolving understanding of the health risks, the Government has strengthened requirements for testing, isolation and quarantine of arriving ships’ crew.

A new order was issued to allow for ongoing, routine, mandatory COVID-19 testing for all border workers including those at sea ports.

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