February 08, 2022
Increased Covid risk for Māori as border set to reopen
Māori pandemic response group Te Rōpū Te Whakakaupapa Urutā is urging caution over the Government’s decision to loosen the border.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the border will open from February 27 to all New Zealanders returning home and who have tested negative for COVID-19 before arrival.
Returnees will isolate at home for up to 10 days rather than in a managed isolation and quarantine facility.
Te Rōpū Whakakaupapa Urutā co-chair Dr Rawiri McKree Jansen says even though 90 per cent of Māori are now at least partially vaccinated, it’s a risky move with an even riskier backup plan.
“The message for Maori communities is be prepared, be ready,” he says.
Dr Jansen says the 90 per cent single dose milestone if a great achievement by whānau and hauora Māori providers, but it also means a significant number of unvaccinated hāpori.
“Ultimately the best protection is fully vaccinated. We do need to do the work to get our whanau fully vaccinated,” he says.
He also supported a new mandate for all those working public-facing roles, at kai venues, close proximity businesses and at large hui to wear medical-grade masks while the country is under the red setting.
He’s urging kaimahi hauora to step up a grade and wear the more expensive NP95 masks.
NP95s should also be supplied to providers going into people’s homes.
“More than that I think there should be a supply of surgical face masks for whanau. They are reusable – they can be washed regularly so something like 10 or 20 surgical masks for every whānau makes sense to me,” Dr Jansen says.