Bloomfield slams racism towards communities affected by Covid as 'gutless'

Source: 1News

The Director-General of Health says those making racist comments about the Samoan community affected by the latest Covid-19 outbreak are “frankly gutless”. 

“This is disappointing and, frankly, gutless. I’m asking everybody in the country to be kind,” Dr Ashley Bloomfield said.

“The virus is the problem, not people. People are the solution. Be part of the solution.” 

He said authorities were doing “a tremendous amount of work” with the Pacific communities affected by the latest Delta outbreak. 

Bloomfield said the community was “incredibly responsive” to this and previous outbreaks. 

“I want to thank all the community leaders who are supporting our efforts to reach out into and ensure that we support and look after that community and identify any cases there, which will be to everyone’s benefit.”

On Tuesday, Bloomfield said more than half of the Covid-19 cases in the latest cluster are Pasifika people. He identified the Samoan Assembly of God Church as one of the largest of the six sub-clusters in the outbreak. As of 1pm Wednesday, 105 people linked to the church in Māngere have contracted Covid-19. 

The Ministry of Health also released demographic information about the make-up of the latest cluster, broken down by gender, age and ethnicity. 

On Tuesday afternoon, the Ministry of Health tweeted: “Unfortunately there are racist comments being directed at people in our Pacific community who are caught up in the current outbreak.”

Some community leaders have been critical of the Ministry of Health’s move to single out the Pacific Island community. 

Fa'anana Efeso Collins, a Labour Party member, told Breakfast it was “unnecessary to name the fact that they were Samoan, that particular church”. 

“I think that’s a misstep. I know the Ministry of Health has a lot going on, but I think it’s a misstep to name them as Samoan. Because what it’s done, it’s opened the floodgates to what’s been on social media,” he said.

Collins said the social media reaction to identifying the cases as Pasifika was “quite detestable” and “obnoxious”.