Health research analyst Dr Rawiri Taonui says it's been alarming to learn that Māori accounted for 5.7 per cent of all cases in the outbreak at the start of September and that in the previous 12 days, Māori accounted for 50 per cent of all new cases.
“I think really the only way we're going to halt the current surge in Da is if Auckland goes back to level four, and the rest of the North Island goes to level three. The situation that’s unfolding, it is that concerning,” he says
There have been 60 new Covid-19 community cases recorded, including 56 in Auckland, three in Waikato, and one in the Bay of Plenty. Even more alarming is that Māori accounts for half of all new cases.
Northland, Auckland, and Waikato are all at level 3 while the rest of the country is still at level 2.
Taonui claims level 3 restrictions in Auckland are too relaxed and he says, “it’s a level 3 that is facilitating the spread of the delta.”
“I think the thing to remember is that level four in Auckland, the five weeks, actually went quite well. From an average of 66 cases per day in the second week. In the last week of level four, the average rate of cases went down to 16.”
Māori vaccination rates are growing faster than other ethnicities in the country, mainly due to the "heroic efforts" of Māori health providers, according to Taonui, but there is still a significant gap to close.
“Highest Māori cases, we're not hearing that story in the daily standup briefings and we need the politicians to stop using gangs as a political football and show some unified leadership,” he says.
“We need to see those Māori MPs speaking our language, both English and Te Reo, at the daily briefings and telling the story of why we need to get the vaccinations.”
Aotearoa to adopt a new strategy to beat Delta
To handle the Covid outbreak, the government has chosen to rely on vaccines, and according to Taonui, "we're doing that from a base of vaccination that's far too low."
According to Taonui, the United States and the United Kingdom are following the same strategy as Aotearoa, with vaccination rates of barely 50%, and the two countries reported a million new cases last week.
Taonui believes Aotearoa should turn to other countries for inspiration, such as Denmark and Norway, which are reopening their borders due to significantly better vaccination rates.
“They are sitting at 85 and 88%, fully vaccinated. We're doing it from a very low base, and an even lower base for Māori, which leaves us very, very exposed.”