National | Dr Shane Reti

Pacific communities require 'much more' pandemic support, says Dr Shane Reti

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Pacific communities which are contracting Covid-19 at much higher rates than other groups require much more support from government, National Party health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.

Reti says data shows Pacific people are contracting Covid-19 four times more than Māori and eight times more than non-Māori, which he says should be a "wakeup call" to government to do more to support this at-risk group.

“In every single strain – Alpha, Delta and now Omicron – the number of Pacific people who have contracted Covid-19 has been disproportionately high. But it’s not clear what the Government has learnt about how best to address this with each successive strain, he says.

“While vaccination rates for this community have been generally pleasing, Pacific people are more likely to live in communal environments with limitations on housing and overcrowding, and more likely to attend large religious gatherings – all of which contribute to high case rates."

Reti says the government must increase its focus on outreach to Pacific communities.

“The Government needs to do more to increase educational outreach into Pacific communities, including further use of trusted community and faith leaders, to help inform and educate Pacific people about ways to protect themselves from Covid-19.

“The Government cannot afford to take their eye off the Pacific community during the pandemic, but unfortunately the data for Omicron suggests they already have,” he says.