Health minister declines to reveal ethnicity of Auckland family with Covid-19

By Jessica Tyson

Health Minister Chris Hipkins has declined to reveal the ethnicity of the family in South Auckland which has contracted Covid-19.

“We’re not releasing personal details to identify the family and at this point what I can say is that it's a family based in Auckland,” he says.

According to research by the Ministry of Health, Counties Manukau District Health Board has a high proportion of Pacific Island people

The health board serves a population of 563,210 people. There are 21.1 percent of Pacific people in Counties Manukau compared to the national population of 6.5 per cent. The proportion of Māori connected to the DHB is the same as the national average, which is 15.7 percent.

Without giving details of the ethnicity of the family, Hipkins says, “it’s a reasonably large family.”

Concerns for Pacifika community

Meanwhile,  Pacific Health Plus and Pacific Leaders Group chairman John Fiso is urging Pacifika communities to prepare in case of a Covid-19 outbreak.

“Medical and other resources must be quickly assessed and mobilised to ensure our communities, and providers within those communities, are ready to combat what could be a worst-case scenario for our Pacific families in high-density areas,” Fiso says.
 
“With news of transmission in South Auckland - where New Zealand’s largest Pacific population lives - further spread of the deadly Covid-19 in our most vulnerable communities could become a reality - and we must be ready."
 
He says the effects of an outbreak on the close-knit Pasifika communities with all of the challenges they already face - job losses, low incomes, many family members in condensed housing, and New Zealand's worst health statistics - has the potential to be catastrophic for this group of New Zealanders.
 
“Unfortunately, when our Pacific communities have been confronted with contagious diseases or viruses in the past, such as measles and rheumatic fever, our country’s response and support has not been good enough. This cannot happen this time. We need all hands on deck - fanau, communities, providers, agencies and, importantly, our government."

Testing close contacts

Hipkins says the Ministry of Health is working through testing all of the family's close contacts.

“That work is happening as quickly as it possibly can,” he says.

Health director-general Dr Bloomfield says nearly 300 Aucklanders are being treated as workplace close contacts of Auckland family with Covid-19.

The contacts being tested are from two companies. The first is a finance company with about 130 staff.

“It has been shut down and all are being followed up and tested. That follow up will happen from our national contact tracing centre here in Wellington,” Dr Bloomfield says.

The other company has four sites across Auckland with 160 staff that the husband in the family is connected to, Dr Bloomfield says.

Three staff members there are symptomatic and being tested and isolated in their households.

“There is testing of all those who work there and also of the environment in that workplace.”

Dr Bloomfield says neither of the workplaces is a public-facing company.