March 29, 2020
No guarantee Maori COVID figure will stay low
A member of Māori pandemic response group Te Rōpū Whakakaupapa Urutā is warning a Health Ministry report that just 4 per cent of COVID-19 cases are Māori is no cause for complacency.
Dr Rawiri Jansen says it’s important in terms of crown obligations under the Treaty of Waitangi the ministry collects ethnicity data, but it’s not clear yet how consistent that collection is.
The 4 per cent figure fits the fact most cases are linked to overseas travel, but the real concern for Māori is what happens if there is widespread community transmission of the virus.
"Māori families might be more crowded and so community transmission might have a greater impact on Māori families than others – the number of adults in a household sort of thing – so that might make it more difficult to control so we are really interested in there being some deliberate work now in planning in case of transmission via household contacts goes up," Dr Jansen says. He says Māori will also be affected by the massive shift of health resources to COVID-19, which means other respiratory conditions, cardiovascular disease and diabetes may not get the attention it needs unless people find ways to stay connected with their health providers.
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