The Rotorua Lakes District Health Board has confirmed that both positive Covid-19 cases in Rotorua have been identified as Māori.
Te Arawa Covid Response Hub chairman Monty Morrison says the worrying development has the community on edge.
“Everyone is concerned and there are levels of concern everywhere. But I think the way that we can deal with it is obviously to be prepared,” he said.
The two people are young Māori, connected, and have come from Auckland. They went to the Rotorua Hospital for health support on Friday night.
The Rotorua Daily Post reported that one of Sunday’s positive Covid-19 cases is a woman who gave birth prematurely at Rotorua Hospital, and the baby later died. The woman and her partner both tested positive for Covid-19 after arriving at the hospital.
“I believe they are doing very well," Lakes District Health Board Māori equity and outcomes director Mapihi Rahuruhi says. "They are working with our public health unit and also sharing information about close contacts.”
Twelve police staff are self-isolating after coming into contact with two who have tested positive for Covid-19 in Rotorua. A police statement said: “Twelve police staff are self-isolating after coming into contact with two people who have tested positive for Covid-19 in Rotorua overnight.
"The police staff came into contact with the two people when responding to a call for service yesterday afternoon. For privacy reasons, further information regarding this call for service will not be provided”.
Ministry of Health figures show the Bay of Plenty remains the lowest vaccinated Māori region. This troubles Morrison as Coivd is now in Rotorua.
“That is a concern and that really is the challenge we have ahead of us. It is important in our messaging we don't want to victimise them at this particular stage. It is important that we support them in making the decisions; we need to ensure that they are safe and their whānau are going to be safe,” Morrison says.
The Ministry of Health website shows the Bay of Plenty has 69% of its 47,734 Māori population first vaccinated followed closely by Whanganui at 70% of its 13,512.
Don't want to victimise
Morrison knows this low vaccination rate in the Bay of Plenty is a concern and that really is the challenge ahead.
“It is important in our messaging we don't want to victimise them at this particular stage. It is important that we support them in making the decisions; that we need to ensure that they are safe and their whānau are going to be safe."
Both positive cases continue to work with health organisations to identify locations of interest. These can be found on the Ministry of Health website.