COVID-19 is here to stay and so the Government needs to put in place long-term protection measures, including mandatory ventilation standards, the Green Party says.
“The Government has made the right decision today to remain at Orange. But COVID-19 isn’t going anywhere and so we need more than the occasional review of protection settings to make sure we are protecting communities long-term,” says the Green Party’s spokesperson for COVID-19, Teanau Tuiono.
“Staying at the Orange traffic light setting was the least the Government can do considering current case numbers, the number of people in hospital, and the current pressures on the health system.
“But the Government is making these traffic light decisions every once in a while as if one day we’re going to wake up and find that we have once again eliminated COVID. There doesn’t seem to be any chance of that happening, at least for a while, and so it is about time that we plan for the future. Not only to get our communities through the current outbreak, but to prepare for any new variants or another wave of Omicron cases.
“Reinfection is also becoming increasingly common and could become an ongoing feature of the pandemic. Experts have also pointed out that in July COVID became the equal leading cause of death in Aotearoa for the first time. If the current trajectory continues, annual COVID deaths could be about five times influenza deaths - but still the Government doesn’t seem to have a long-term plan.
“We need to do everything we possibly can to protect whānau and reduce the risk of people experiencing long COVID, particularly among Māori and Pacific people, and immunocompromised people.
“The Green Party has been the only party to consistently call on the Government to follow the path of caution and to put in place measures that protect everyone equally.
“Following months of political pressure from our Green MPs, the Government confirmed that medical masks will be available free for everyone. The Government should now go one step further and make N95 masks free.
“The Green Party is also calling on the Government to adopt mandatory ventilation standards for workplaces and schools, to provide financial support for community organisations to install better monitoring and filtration, and to improve support for Māori and Pacific health providers to boost vaccinations,” says Teanau Tuiono.