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National Māori Pandemic Group Te Rōpū Whakakaupapa Urutā co-leader Dr Papaarangi Reid has supported a return to a level 4 lockdown over the covid-19 virus crisis, saying she is concerned about the trajectory of the outbreak in Auckland.

“We’re at a very, very dangerous time in this outbreak in Auckland especially,” she said.

Professor Reid told RNZ Morning Report the group supported calls for a level 4 circuit breaker lockdown in Auckland to give Māori a chance to increase vaccination rates.

“… a circuit breaker would be ideal, to go back to a sharp level 4 conditions to buy us some time to increase vaccination rates and to decrease the spread that’s obviously happening in the community in Auckland,” she said.

But Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins has ruled out moving back to level 4.

The Health Ministry reported 65 new community cases todaysix fewer than yesterday.

There was no media conference today. In a statement, the ministry said 34 of these cases were linked, 10 were household contacts, and 31 remained unlinked with investigations continuing.

There have been 107 unlinked cases in the past 14 days.

There was also one new case in managed isolation.

Thirty-four people are in hospital, with six in intensive care.

Politics ‘promoted over health’
Dr Reid was concerned politics were being promoted over public health, adding that a 95 percent vaccination rate would help everyone.

“Because if anybody, any group is getting sick at a disproportionate rate, they will be taking up places in hospital, they will be taking up beds in ICU, that when our friends and whānau have a heart attack or have a car crash they won’t be able to access, get surgery done.

“It is in the best interest of the whole community that no subgroup in the community is left behind.”

Yesterday, Health Minister Andrew Little said the capacity of ICU and HDU beds nationwide could be surged to 550 beds.

“If we had to provide additional surge capacity to convert beds for ICU-level care then as a result of the work that started at the end of last year the DHBs tell us they can surge that up to 550 beds — that would be at the cost of other treatment and other patient care.”

Reid said some people were also taking longer to decide whether to get the vaccine.

“Different groups have different experiences, so for some people it’s not relevant, they don’t think covid is real.

‘Don’t believe it is relevant’
They don’t believe it’s relevant in their lives. We see those people gathering at protests.”

She put it down to the lack of suitable housing, mental health and addiction issues, and others who could not follow rules because they were in the cash economy and not subsidised by MBIE.

“… and that disproportionately falls on Māori. So whether or not you believe in how it was designed, we’ve got a different distribution of the population who are more likely to take longer to go through that decision-making process,” she said.

“That is beginning to change, but we still are several weeks behind in our catch up and we need that time.”

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

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