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Dr Rawiri Taonui | Covid Another Māori Death 16 September 2020
Photo images supplied / Dr Rawiri Taonui

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Dr Rawiri Taonui | Covid Another Māori Death 16 September 2020

Māori 20% of all Deaths

Unfortunately, the Ministry of Health has reported a third death in the Māori-Pacific Cluster in Auckland. He was Māori, aged in his 50s and the brother of the first man to die in this outbreak also in his 50s.

The Ministry of Health does not officially release details of deaths by ethnicity. However, sources within the Ministry of Health say that there were three Māori deaths in the first wave. Today’s death is the 5th in the Māori community.

It also means that Māori are 20% of all deaths. While by comparison with previous pandemics the number of deaths is by scale much lower, Māori should be concerned. Currently, with a demographic of 17%, we are now in the position of every previous pandemic/epidemic to awash out shores to suffer more deaths than other communities. Our overall rate of positive cases remains lower than for other populations, nevertheless, the concern is real.

The Whānau

In this case, and in the face of the rising conspiracy theories about Covid-19, the family has been very dignified urging people and the community to take the threat of Covid-19 very seriously. It is real.

Surges in Arrivals & Absence of Random Testing Cause of OutBreak

The Māori-Pacific Auckland OutBreak was the result of a combination of: a breach at the border born from a surge in the number of arrivals from 1,050 per week during mid-July to 3,500 to 4,000 per week from 27 July to 14 August; and, a drop in community testing during July, including a complete absence of random testing, particularly in cities with MIQ facilities and more concerningly in Auckland, Hamilton and Rotorua which have significant Māori and Pacific demographic profiles. The latter meant that there were many more cases before the outbreak was detected than there should have been

The AmeriCold worker, the earliest identified case in the Māori-Pacific OutBreak was infected on 27 July. This surge also led to the Rydges case where a maintenance worker picked up a Covid-19 infection on 31 July after using a lift moments after an arrival from the United States, who tested positive for Covid-19 that day, also used the lift.

More recently there has been another surge in numbers crossing our border, this time to 2,800 per week. This has led to another positive case, this time a health worker in the Jet Park quarantine hotel.

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Positive Cases at the Border

One of the other key indices here is that there is an elevated risk of transfer into the community when positive cases in MIQ pass 15.

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The solutions are clear and obvious. The government must cap numbers crossing the border to 1,500 or less per week. Queensland, South Australia, and Western Australia, all of which have lower per-capita rates of Covid-19 than New Zealand operate caps of between 500 to 550 arrivals per week.

When positive cases in MIQ go over 15, then the rate must be slowed further. With current concerns over rising Covid-19 cases in Victoria and Tasmania, the Australian government has halted all air arrivals into those states.

The government must also change the advice to Māori and Pacific communities that anyone aged over 50 years and with one pre-existing health condition is at risk of severe illness from Covid-19.

The government has been particularly good at contact tracing. The Auckland Outbreak is slowing. There have been two days of new cases.

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The government must however maintain an elevated level of community testing between outbreaks, including random testing of asymptomatic members of the community and with an emphasis on the cities with MIQ facilities and vulnerable Māori and Pacific communities. Had they conducted this type of testing during July, then the outbreak in Auckland would have been picked up and control established a lot sooner.

Today’s announcement is a seminal warning to Māori. The Ministry of Health website carries a caution that Māori-Pacific aged under 70 with a chronic health condition are at risk from Covid-19.

This must read as for the warning in Australia that any indigenous person aged over 50 years with one health condition, such as heart disease, a respiratory condition, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, or a liver or kidney condition is at risk from Covid-19.


                                      Kia noho haumaru - stay safe and self-sovereign
                                                                      rawiri t


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