Covid 19 coronavirus Delta outbreak: Health ministry says racist remarks thrown at Pacific community

Racist comments directed at Pasifika in the wake of the latest Covid outbreak have appalled health authorities.

The current Delta variant outbreak has disproportionately affected the Samoan community, including people exposed at a major church assembly in Māngere.

“The virus is the problem, not people,” the Ministry of Health said this afternoon.

“People are the solution, be part of the solution – be kind.”

Dr Dianne Sika-Paotonu from the University of Otago said the Delta variant presented a more dangerous version of Covid-19 within the community setting.

“Vaccination rates for Pacific peoples collectively across Aotearoa New Zealand, remain of significant concern,” said Sika-Paotonu, a pathology and molecular medicine expert.

She said more work and support was needed to ensure Pacific and Māori communities were prioritised.

Sika-Paotonu said it was devastating to hear more than half the reported Covid-19 cases were affecting Pacific peoples, with numbers projected to rise.

Dr Debbie Ryan, from policy and research consultancy Pacific Perspectives, said Pasifika communities’ vulnerability to infectious diseases was well-documented.

She said Pacific people made up nearly 60 per cent of community cases in the August 2020 Covid outbreak, and most measles cases in the 2019 outbreak.

“No doubt we will get through the current crisis,” Ryan added.

“Pacific communities and health providers and health workers have again pulled together brilliantly to do what is required.


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