Morning Briefing Aug 26: Govt accused of failing Pasifika through pandemic

Anna Murray
Source: 1News

The Government is blamed for low vaccination rates among Pasifika, while Covid case numbers and locations of interest continue to rise.

Nurses carry out Covid-19 testing

Pacific health providers have accused the Government of ignoring their advice for months , saying their community is now being hit hard through the Delta outbreak.

Vaccination rates for Pasifika are the lowest in the country and providers are laying the blame for this at the Government's door.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins dismissed those claims yesterday, saying the Government has good relationships with Pacific health providers, but 1 NEWS Pacific correspondent Barbara Dreaver says those comments show “a huge disconnect” between Pacific leaders and the Ministry of Health.

South Seas Healthcare has now launched a free helpline (0800 21 12 21) for Pasifika who need assistance in booking a Covid vaccination for their entire household. With translators on hand, the helpline isn’t just for New Zealand residents. South Seas says this is critical for boosting the number of Pacific people getting vaccinated.

Meanwhile, New Zealand’s top health official has taken aim at the racist remarks being directed at the Samoan community this week.

Dr Ashley Bloomfield called the comments “disappointing” and “gutless” and thanked community leaders for supporting those who may be infected with Covid-19.

But Auckland Councillor Fa'anana Efeso Collins says the sorry saga of racist abuse could have been avoided had the Ministry of Health not singled out the ethnicity of the community cases .

The church that’s been targeted by the abuse says they’re disappointed by the attack but are “just getting on with it ... and making sure everyone is getting tested”.

Case, location numbers keep climbing

New Zealand recorded another 62 cases of Covid-19 in the community yesterday, but Dr Ashley Bloomfield says it’s encouraging that those numbers are rising steadily and not multiplying day by day .

The total number of cases now stands at 210 with more than 60 per cent of those in people aged under 30. 

The number of locations of interest linked to the outbreak is now approaching 500, with the latest round of additions including a St Heliers mall, a West Auckland Warehouse, an Ōtara church and another gym.

The full list of locations can be found here , while an interactive map of the locations developed by data company Abley can be found here .

Meanwhile, the vaccine rollout is starting to break records daily following a sluggish start, but new modelling has shown there’s still a long way to go with the Delta variant in play. 

Now, for a bit of housekeeping before we continue.

Tomorrow will be my last day in charge of the Morning Briefing. As (bad) luck would have it, my last day on the job has coincided with Level 4, so the Briefing itself is also taking a break due to lockdown staffing levels. But do keep an eye on your inbox as it will be back in the not too distant future. 

Red flights to resume shortly

Red flights allowing people to return to New Zealand from Australia will resume from next month .

Passengers on those flights will need to book a 14-day stay in managed isolation and have a negative pre-departure test. However, officials warn people will need to secure a MIQ voucher in the same way everyone else returning to New Zealand does and demand is high. 

It comes as New South Wales recorded another steep escalation in Covid cases, with more than 900 confirmed yesterday .

Premier Gladys Berejiklian acknowledged that people would be alarmed to see the case numbers but urged them to instead look at vaccination rates.

1 NEWS Australia correspondent Andrew Macfarlane has written about those vaccination rates , saying the numbers of people rolling up their sleeves for a jab is “the light at the end of the tunnel that’s desperately needed right now”. 

Vaccine errors confirmed

The Ministry of Health has confirmed another instance where people were given the wrong dose of the Pfizer vaccine , RNZ reports.

It follows their story yesterday where a mix-up meant five people at Auckland’s Highbrook vaccination centre may have received a dose of saline solution instead of a vaccine last month.

Chris Hipkins said yesterday health officials should have been more up front about the incidents.

Supermarkets feeling the strain

Almost 2000 Countdown staff are now in isolation following potential exposure to Covid cases.

The supermarket chain says almost 20 of its stores have had a Covid-positive person visit and six stores are now closed due to low staff numbers. Rival chain Foodstuffs says it's under pressure too, with more than 700 staff having to stay home.

While supermarkets feel the strain, Infometrics data shows economic activity is higher through this Level 4 lockdown compared to last year’s one.

However, there’s still some confusion around which businesses can trade through Level 4 .

For the past week, service stations have been pouring coffees for customers, but they’ve now been told to stop, for example.

The Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) says open businesses add to the risk of Covid-19 spreading. 

NCEA exams pushed back

NCEA assessment dates for some students are being pushed back because of the current lockdown.

The dates for end of year NCEA and NZ Scholarship exams will be moved back by two weeks, while deadlines for subjects where students submit portfolios, including visual arts, will also be pushed back by a fortnight.

Other news of note this morning:

- Thousands of people who helped Western forces now have less than a week to get out of Afghanistan after the US refused to extend its Kabul extraction mission.

- Covid is surging in the UK again, with more than 35,000 new cases and 149 deaths recorded there in the last 24 hours. It comes as the UK Government orders another 35 million Pfizer doses for a vaccine booster programme .

- Aotearoa’s Covid-19 strategy puts the country in a good position amid uncertainty of how the virus will evolve , epidemiologist Michael Baker says.

- Police checkpoints have hit the road in Northland, but local iwi say they've come far too late .

- Police have declined offers from the wider community to hold a funeral for a baby girl found dead at an Auckland recycling facility.

- And the Wheel Blacks are taking plenty of positives from their opening match at the Paralympics, despite a heavy loss to the USA .

And finally...

Lisa Carrington, Michael Buck and Colin the cavoodle

From Tokyo to MIQ to lockdown, Lisa Carrington has returned home without much fanfare.

So, Seven Sharp sent Rhys Mathewson to celebrate the country’s most successful Olympian with a parade of one.

You can find his chat with Carrington, her fiancé Michael Buck, and Colin the cavoodle here .