April 06, 2020
Dr Rawiri Taonui Covid-19 Updates for Māori 06 April 2020 | Māori Cases Percentage Rising, Responses to Information Request on Testing
Covid-19 Update for Māori 06 April 2020 | Māori Cases Percentage Rising, Responses to Information Request on Testing
Dr Rawiri Taonui
New Zealand has 67 new cases today. The new total is 1106. This is an increase of 6.4% which is down from consecutive increases of 9.4% over the previous two days.
Māori cases increased by 8 to a total of 87. This is a 10.1% rise which is lower than the 16.2% increase yesterday but higher than the overall 6.4% increase above. Māori are now 7.9% of all cases up from 4.0% on March 29. This remains under our 16.5% demographic.
While not at the level of alarm, the incremental increase in the Māori percentage, coupled with a national figure showing community transmission has increased to 2%. The trend suggests we may be seeing the beginnings of community transmission, albeit at a low level.
Overall Rate of Increase Levelling
Over the last 6 days, the number of new cases has levelled out to between 61 and 89. This is positive. To be confident that the New Zealand strategy is working, we will need to see a significant decline in new cases sometime over the next 3 weeks.
The levelling out is significant as it comes alongside increased testing under wider criteria including targeting Māori and Pacific Peoples. Yesterday, there were 3,709 tests, a significant increase on the average of around 2,500 tests per day last week. We need more.
There is one case of a supermarket worker in Kaikohe testing positive. Contrary to the Ministry of Health guidelines, the Centre for Disease Control in the USA and countries like Austria have now recognised that wearing masks in spaces like supermarkets where it is difficult to maintain social distancing is important.
There are now 176 people who have recovered from Covid-19 meaning the active total is 930. From this figure, we can begin estimating how many people will: have mild symptoms (usually 80%), become very ill (usually 20%), require hospital care (varies above and below 10%) or need help in an Intensive Care Unit (possibly 4 to 5%).
Testing in Māori Communities –
Māori are concerned that there is not enough testing in our communities. One aspect of this is that prior to April 2, testing focused on those associated with overseas travel and their contacts. Of relevance, General Practice New Zealand has reported that one unanticipated outcome of the lockdown was that fewer people were accessing their doctors. The main testing has also been over-complicated. Doctors have been sometimes difficult to access. There are long wait times on Healthline.
First Responses – Information Request Testing
Of 20 District Health Boards (DHB) asked to provide statistics on testing including overall numbers and numbers for Māori and Pacific Peoples, 7 have referred the request to the Ministry of Health, 2 have responded, and 11 not responded. I published the first response from the Taranaki DHB recently.
The second response from the Nelson-Marlborough DHB can be analysed as follows:
- The overall population is 150,000.
- The Māori demographic is 10.5%.
- Three snapshots of testing between March 28 and April 5 in Marlborough, Motueka and Nelson show about 1000 tests were conducted.
- 27 or 2.7% were Māori.
- This is well below what we should accept.
New Zealand Herald
The New Zealand Herald has named a Tūwharetoa Trust Board staff member who tested positive. This is shameful. They are not naming the more than 73% non-Māori who have tested positive. Covid-19 is a dangerous disease and whānau require privacy to deal with the consequences.
What we do know is that there are more community based testing sites and mobile units (107 as of April 3) and a broader criterion for testing including targeting Māori and Pacific Peoples as vulnerable groups (as of April 2).
Two things are important. Those concerns will remain until the overall testing data by ethnicity is released from all DHBs showing adequate testing in our communities across all DHBs. Secondly, we need to encourage as many of our people as possible who feel concerned about their health to approach their doctor or Healthline 0800 358 5453. There are also some testing centres with Māori staff that will assist with your testing.
Whānau, maintain social distancing, whānau bubbles and ensure that those from our community who need testing, are tested. We need more testing.
Noho haumaru, stay safe and self-sovereign, Dr Rawiri Taonui
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