Matthew Tukaki: Changing up Aotearoa’s Covid-19 approach

Matthew Tukaki: Changing up Aotearoa’s Covid-19 approach

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Matthew Tukaki, Chair of the National Māori Authority, says it's time to change our Covid-19 approach by opening Aotearoa New Zealand back up to the world.

The Super Saturday vaccination event saw over 130,000 people roll up their sleeves and receive their vaccine to increase vaccination rates. Figures from the day show the country is nearing 90 percent vaccination rate.

Data shows around 69.1 percent have received their first doses (3,512,376), and 51.2 percent have received their second doses (2,601,443) of the vaccine.

Source: CC/ Government Newswire (Ministry of Health)

“The other figure, until a vaccine is approved for our young population, is as important right now. When it comes to New Zealand’s total current eligible population that has been vaccinated, the figures sit at eighty-five percent for the first dose and sixty-five percent for the second dose,” Tukaki said.

“The overall number had a lift because of Super Saturday with 130,002 people vaccinated as did the Māori vaccination rates — they too remain lower than average when compared to other population groups.”

Active cases of the virus reported up to today show 274 are Māori, while 177 are European, 127 of other Pacific Peoples and 34 are of Asian ethnicity. Māori households are the most common victims of catching and spreading the virus.

There are 97 active cases in the age group of 0-9, and 81 active cases between the age group of 10-19. There are 255 active cases between the age group of 20-49 — only 24 active cases are reported in the age group of 60+ — the virus is undoubtedly more of a threat to younger aged people than older aged people.

Those in Auckland's outbreak who have been hospitalised and are or were unvaccinated sits at 943. Though, 342 were not eligible for the vaccine due to being under the age of 12.

Source: CC/ Unsplash

Auckland is the largest gateway access to the country and the Delta variant has caused a significant problem for a number of transport logistic networks. Containment of the virus in the city has disrupted the supply of productivity for the whole nation.

Figures from Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment of those working from home reached 769,000 during Alert Level 4, and in Level 3 that had dropped to 732,000 working from home. It was still considerably a high number, and many had to rely on the government's Wage Subsidy to stay afloat.

1,499,000 New Zealanders could not work under Level 4, but at Level 3 the number was still high at 683,000.

The education sector has struggled the most. High levels of absence have occurred due to closures over Alert Level changes or students not returning to school. This has put thousands of vulnerable children and students at risk of losing a thorough education without a full year of proper learning.

Online learning has faced missed classes and lack of technology for some vulnerable families to afford. Quality of learning has diminished because it has not been the same as it would if there were a classroom environment with a teacher.

Source: CC/ 123rf

Tukaki says it's time for a change and refocus efforts on looking at measures needed to reopen the country back up to the world once again, like the pre-Covid world. But that will depend on vaccination rates.

“Many people from across ethnicities, populations and age divides are tired. They are fatigued and many of them yearn for greater freedoms — but tinged with the fear of Delta and its impacts. There is no doubt that the Ardern government response has been targeted and, in the main, positive for New Zealand – especially compared with most other countries around the world,” Tukaki said.

“We have enjoyed more freedoms, fewer deaths and greater domestic movement. Our economy has largely weathered a storm with unemployment much lower than predicted and net debt not being as high as some economists predicted. Our health system to date has not been overwhelmed and we have not faced the tens of thousands of deaths many others have. Death has not visited our door as it has other countries.”

“Our struggle to convince some to get vaccinated, [means] we may have become a little complacent. A little like the golden weather wasn’t going to end and we’d come out the other side smelling of roses. And that is why it’s time for a change. To refocus our efforts at looking at the steps and measures needed to open up domestically and then, ultimately in 2022, internationally.”

Some solutions suggested by Tukaki are better managed isolation protocols, education and health systems, while taking an honest look at how the economy can continue to work.

Replacing the Alert Level system to provide a more simplistic understanding for plotting out the future will be an improvement from the current situation of continuous lockdowns.

“We need to throw everything we can, including the kitchen sink, at getting our vaccination levels up — the ticket to additional freedoms. But let’s be clear here – we cannot be left behind and whatever plan the government comes up with we need to back it in,” Tukaki concluded.

Image: SUPPLIED/Facebook- Matthew Tukaki

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This publication comes at a cost and time but is free to read — thisquality will never paywall content as news should always be accessible at any given moment. It doesn't have to be much, as we give you a choice to choose what you want to contribute, and we ask that you consider donating to continue reading more of our news sourced from trustworthy official government and independent newswires around New Zealand at your price.

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