April 04, 2020
Dr Rawiri Taonui|Covid-19 Update for Māori April 4 2020|Testing, Masks and Risks for Māori & Pasifika
April 4 2020 | Covid-19 Update for Māori |Testing, Masks and Risks for Māori & Pasifika
Dr Rawiri Taonui
New Zealand has 82 new cases today and 950 cases in total a rise of 9.4% from yesterday. I will add tracks for Māori and Pacific Peoples to this graph.
Māori cases increased by 6 to a new total of 68. This is a 9.6% increase. The percentage increase is lower than 12.2% yesterday and 22% on April 2. Māori are 7.2% of all cases. Over the last 2 days we were 7.1% and 7.0%. The slight increase remains lower than our 16.5% demographic.
The Ministry of health is increasing testing capacity. Yesterday there were 3,631 tests. The Ministry is now able to test 6,300 persons per day. If you think you have symptoms call your doctor or Healthline on 0800 358 5453. There will be a wait if ringing Healthline. Be patient. Place your phone on speaker and get a cup of coffee or tea.
There are reports from Māori are concerned that they have been turned away for tests despite being referred by their doctors. Others say they have had to wait 3 to 5 days for their test. I have analysed the testing from one centre. The local Māori demographic is 17%. Māori make up 28% of those referred for a test and 27% of those who were tested. I have asked for statistics from all DHBs.
Those at Risk
The Ministry of Health advises those aged over 70 years old, those with serious heart conditions, respiratory problems, obesity, diabetes, kidney and liver conditions and pregnant women are most at risk (see https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-novel-coronavirus/covid-19-novel-coronavirus-health-advice-general-public).
Many of these conditions are found on average 10 to 15 years earlier for Māori and Pacific Peoples. We are therefore more at risk. When we think about members of our whānau or aiga who are at risk we should think about those aged 55 years and older.
Masks – The West and Asia
The Ministry of Health continues to advise that members of the public do not need to wear masks. They also report that they are bringing 41 million masks into New Zealand and that more PPE gear is on its way.
George Gao, director-general of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention believes that the policy of not wearing masks in Western countries is ‘a big mistake’. In the West, people think of wearing a mask as protection against infection from others. In Asia, the thinking is extended to ‘protecting others from you in case you are infected and don’t know it’.
According to Gao, wearing a face mask prevents virus-transmitting droplets from a person's mouth or nose reaching someone else and infecting them. N95 respirators and surgical masks are designed to prevent the spew of tiny particles containing the virus; homemade cloth masks or bandanas are more permeable but may still help to prevent community transmission if everyone wears them.
One impression this researcher has is that European health leaders in the West simply do not like following advice from Asia. This was demonstrated during a zoom interview several days ago when a leading member of the World Health Organisation appeared to deliberately turn off his computer when asked to comment on successful strategies in Taiwan.
Changes in the USA and Europe
The Centre for Disease Control in the USA is reconsidering the use of masks. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is encouraging Californians to wear masks.
In Europe, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina have also made mask-wearing in public mandatory. Austria has moved to make wearing masks compulsory for those visiting supermarkets and stores. France, which previously advised citizens not to wear masks, has now advised all those working in retail like supermarkets to wear a mask.
France has also admitted that part of the reluctance to issue a more general advisement was to preserve their stockpile for health workers only. While that is understandable it obviously placed workers at risk. Although workers in retail do not deal with as many sick people as health workers, they are dealing with 100s more people on a daily basis some of whom without knowing may be contagious.
Noho haumaru, stay safe and self-sovereign, Dr Rawiri Taonui