February 15, 2022
Omicron surge set to challenge Māori
National’s Health spokesperson Shane Reti says the next few weeks will be a challenging period for Māori as Omicron surges.
The country moves into phase two of the Omicron response at midnight, with the most recent modelling predicting more than 10 thousand cases a day at the peak of the outbreak.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern expects the peak will come in late March.
There were 757 confirmed and probable cases reported today, bringing the total number of active cases to 6309.
Dr Reti says a lot will depend on where the virus lands, with its impact likely to be worse if it gets among the elderly, people who are immuno-compromised, and Māori.
“They live in generally low socio-economic situations so may well have less immunity, may well be less able to fight Omicron if they catch it and more likely to spread it from poor housing so those will be the vulnerable groups so it may be a challenging story for Maori particularly,” he says.
Dr Reti says he’s welcoming a return to the north in the next week of the Waipareira vaccination battalion after the Government made a further $60 million available to tackle Covid in the most vulnerable Maori communities.
The Waipareira team will integrate with Maori health providers on the ground.
He says its important children are included in the current vaccination round.
Meanwhile, iwi leaders in Taitokerau are urging whanau to prepare for Omicron.
Collective Te Kahu o Taonui is encouraging people to get vaccinated and boosted before the surge hits the region.
Te Aupouri chief executive Mariameno Kapa-Kingi says iwi and hapu groups have risen to the challenge, but it now comes down to what is done at whānau level.
“From 2020 to now whanau have definitely realised in the main we’ve got to get ourselves into the next stage and prepared. The question now is not what you need so much as what is your plan?” she says.