National | Minister for COVID-19 Response

Alert level decision 'wrong' - Dr Rāwiri Taonui

Māori community leaders are divided over the government’s decision to drop alert levels yesterday.

Research academic Dr Rāwiri Taonui has been modelling the NZ Covid-19 data since the first lockdown in March last year. He has grave concerns about the latest decision.

“I was surprised. They made the wrong decision. There are still numbers outstanding in terms of locations of interest about how many have been contacted and how many have yet to be tested and how many results are pending. And also with the last case, we don't know what the numbers are in terms of their personal contacts.”

More vulnerable

The Ministry of Health confirms a total of 31 close contacts and 1,490 casual plus contacts have been identified at Papatoetoe High School. This is a drop from yesterday as further investigation has confirmed some were not contacts.

Of the 31 school close contacts, 30 have returned negative results, with one positive result (Case D). Of the casual plus contacts (that is, other students and staff at the school), 1398 have returned negative results, there was one positive (Case E), and 91 results are to come.

Waipareira Trust chief executive John Tamihere is worried about the overall impact on Māori and says an extension may have been enough to test more and further understand the latest cases.

“We know that Māori and Pasifika people are more vulnerable to respiratory-related issues so we have to be far more vigilant and we would want to be far more cautious but we don't hold the authority or the power,” Tamihere said.

Turuki Health chief executive Te Puea Winiata says although surprised at the announcement, the health provider is keen to get on with the work.

“In Māori provider land, it is what it is. I have to say that being a community organisation, we rely on the information and the work that's being done with the Ministry of Health and the Prime Minister's office. So for us, we just roll with what we've got “

Highly effective

Lady Tureiti Moxon, who leads Te Kōhao Health, says she’s confident about the government's response to the latest outbreak and reinforced the message of safety for whānau

“The government appears to have a really good handle on the tracing of where people are and whether it's a danger for us as people,” she said.

The Ministry of Health confirms zero community cases of Covid-19 today and three cases in managed isolation hotels. It says having no further cases in the community provides continued reassurance that the swift, all-of-system response continues to be a highly effective reaction to the Auckland February cases.

“I understand that any case of Covid-19 causes a degree of anxiety within the community. I think that people can have confidence in the decision that we've taken because of the extensive level of testing we've taken” Covid-19 Minister Chris Hipkins said.