Equitable response to Omicron vital

The Green Party supports the Government’s decision to move Aotearoa New Zealand to traffic light level Red at 11.59pm tonight, but says its success will depend on the support that is made available to the most vulnerable.

“The most important thing is to make sure those most at risk from Omicron can get everything they need to keep themselves and their family safe,” says Dr. Elizabeth Kerekere, the Green Party’s COVID-19 spokesperson.

The Green Party is calling on the Government to prioritise:

  • Māori and Pacific providers in the rollout of the vaccination to children over the age of five years and those eligible for their booster
  • Mandatory ventilation standards for workplaces and fund schools to meet these standards as quickly as possible
  • The procurement and distribution of N95 masks, or an equally effective equivalent. These higher quality masks must be freely available for the most vulnerable, including people who interact with the public as part of their job
  • Distribute rapid antigen testing as an additional screening tool to those most at risk

“Taking these steps is the very least that we can do to keep our communities safe.

“Experts have been clear throughout the pandemic that Māori and Pacific whānau among those most at risk from Omircon, as they were from Delta. It is critical that the Government learn from previous mistakes and prioritise making sure Māori and Pacific providers have what they need to keep whānau safe. This includes resources to vaccinate Māori and Pacific children over the age of five years and those eligible for their booster.

“The Government also needs to ensure high quality masks are free, and rapid antigen tests available.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has continuously shone a light on the inequality in Aotearoa New Zealand. Right now we need to work together and focus on the needs of the most vulnerable in our communities. That includes Māori and Pacific people and those who are immunocompromised, as well as those who cannot work from home and will continue to work with the public as Omicron spreads.

“Public health experts have recently expressed concern that the Red setting will not be enough to slow down the spread of Omicron.

“The Green Party urges the Government to keep these settings under review and consider:

  • The viability of regional borders, particularly in areas where the spread of Omicron could impact Māori and Pacific people
  • Limits on indoor gatherings
  • An urgent funding boost for additional intensive care (ICU) beds in hospitals nationwide, and investment in training healthcare workers,” Dr. Elizabeth Kerekere said.

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