Pacific peoples minister warns over Auckland ‘hard to reach pockets’

Aupito William Sio
Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio ... "What we're asking is that everybody plays their part to keep everybody safe." Image: Samuel Rillstone/RNZ

RNZ Pacific

Some New Zealand people becoming ill with covid-19 have never engaged with the health system before, says Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio.

He was commenting after an announcement that two people arriving at Middlemore Hospital for non-covid reasons on Wednesday later tested positive for the virus.

Sixty-six hospital patients are now considered close contacts, 34 remain in the hospital and have been moved to isolation wards and the others are being followed up for testing.

Aupito told RNZ Morning Report that the two cases were worrying, however, there were some people in the community who never engaged with the health system until it was too late.

“There are pockets of our wider Auckland community that are hard to reach.”

That meant it was crucial for health officials to work closely with those who had ties within their local communities.

“It’s really important for our government agencies to be working closely with our providers – both Māori, both Pacific and generally – people who are known to the local communities, who have long-standing relationships and trusting relationships with people so they can step forward.”

Nineteen new community cases were reported in Auckland today — the same number as yesterday, with just one yet to be linked, the Ministry of Health said.

Slow to trust government
Regarding cases identified in social and transitional housing, Aupito said some are slow to trust government agency officials particularly when they are seeking personal information.

The government was reliant on the providers who ran the housing for help and there was confidence that they were cooperating.

“What we’re asking is that everybody plays their part to keep everybody safe to contain the spread.”

Aupito also knew of people who were nervous about coming forward because they might be in households where they were the sole breadwinner, or they might be looking after elderly relatives as well as children.

The minister said the current delta outbreak was not out of control.

“What we are seeing is the way that delta behaves; it’s much more infectious, more aggressive and so we’re seeing the tail-end of the original outbreak and the officials are giving us a great deal of confidence that if everybody plays their part and we continue with the testing in the suburbs of interest that we’re heading in the right direction.”

Officials are able to say with some certainty that most future cases would be household contacts. Some clusters were already dormant, he said.

‘Great deal of confidence’
“So as long as we are able to contain it … that’s giving us a great deal of confidence,” he said.

Yesterday Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern signalled that even if there’s a shift in alert levels next week, the regional boundary would likely remain along with some other restrictions.

Asked how long Auckland might have to remain closed off, Aupito said reopening the border was not featuring in discussions at the moment.

“I think we’ve got to have a certain degree of containment of the current cases and of course the officials are able to determine future cases based on household numbers.”

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

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