April 14, 2020
More tests needed to probe Maori COVID rate
Whangarei MP Shane Reti is calling for more COVID-19 testing of Māori to make sure they are not a silent reservoir of the coronavirus.
At yesterday’s pandemic response select committee Dr Reti, who is National’s associate Health spokesperson, quizzed the Director-General of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield, about why the district health boards with the highest percentage of Maori in their populations seem to be the ones with the lowest number of cases.
He says as of five days ago just 7.4 Māori in 1000 had been tested compared with 8.1 per 1000 for the general population.
While he would like to believe a few Māori have caught the virus, it doesn’t fit the risk profile.
“I suspect even in my own region here of Taitokerau, there are Māori, there are iwi sitting out in the fringes who have had a cough, a sore throat and a runny nose, but haven’t reported it because they haven’t recognised it as being something significant, that messaging hasn’t got across, or they don’t want to be the ones in their whānau who close down their community centre or have some impact on jobs, so they suck it in,” Dr Reti says.
He says similar behaviour contributed to the rheumatic fever epidemic among Māori in the north.
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