Winding down COVID powers does nothing to change the fact that stronger public health measures are needed to protect our immunocompromised and disabled whānau.
“The recent removal of longstanding protections has been of major concern for public health experts and vulnerable communities, whose wellbeing should be at the centre of the Government's response,” says the Green Party’s spokesperson for COVID-19, Teanau Tuiono.
“COVID-19 cases are on the rise again, proving that this illness is here to stay. We will be living with new waves of the infection for many years to come. Focus must return to slowing the spread through long-term protective public health measures, such as masking and equal access to new vaccines.
“We are concerned that as of yet variant specific boosters have not been available to New Zealanders, and would like to see the Government indicate when these will be rolled out.
“Public health measures work best when they become part of our everyday lives. As a minimum the Government needs to be able to guarantee clean air inside buildings through air quality monitoring, strong ventilation standards, and air purification.
“The Government must also make sure there is ongoing support for Māori and Pacific communities so everyone is protected equally.
“There is no doubt that COVID hit some communities far worse than others. Living with COVID could make inequalities even worse if we do not put the health of those most at risk at the centre of our response. These communities need to be part of a community-centred approach where those who are most at risk are at the table for making decisions about how to respond to future waves.
“The biggest lesson from this pandemic is to act early, decisively and globally to prevent problems becoming much bigger. The Government must take action now,” says Teanau Tuiono.