Aotearoa should prepare for second wave of Covid-19 – Rawiri Taonui

By Bronson Perich

Dr Rawiri Taonui (Te Hikutū and Ngāti Korokoro, Te Kapotai and Ngāti Paeahi, Ngāti Rora, Ngāti Whēru, Ngāti Te Taonui) says as worldwide Covid-19 cases rise above 19 million, the likelihood of a second wave of the coronavirus hitting Aotearoa increases.

“The faster Covid-19 increases internationally, the more pressure it places on our border,” Dr Taonui says.

Aotearoa borders remain closed to general travel but Dr Taonui notes the border is not completely closed.

Freight continues to come in and out of the country and aircrew still travel the world. The 32 quarantine facilities spread across five cities are, in Dr Taonui’s view, a potential risk.

Dr Rawiri Taonui talks Covid-19 - Photo / File

Keep calm and be prepared

Dr Taonui notes European countries have been hit with second waves of Covid-19. While he doesn’t want to incite panic, his analysis leads him to conclude that Aotearoa must be prepared.

“It’s not to be alarmist. We’ve got a good system,” Dr Taonui says.

“We’ve learnt a lot. It’s a matter of when, rather than if.”

He says quick reaction will prevent this second wave from spreading.

Working with Māori 

He notes when swine flu hit, indigenous communities across the world were particularly affected.

Dr Taonui says the aftermath of swine flu gave the government the perfect opportunity to engage with Māori. But the engagement never happened and when Covid-19 came, Māori came up with their own plans.

The resulting checkpoints, food parcel networks, testing stations and advocacy worked well. But Taonui says had the government engaged after swine flu, the response would have been quicker, and more effective.

“The most effective pandemic plans are those that are generated both from the government and from communities.”