The National Party’s plan to remove all COVID restrictions on 1 December, regardless of whether or not people are vaccinated, would cost lives, the Green Party says.
“COVID restrictions should not be lifted until a vaccination rate of 95 percent for Māori, Pasifika and other marginalised communities has been achieved,” says Green spokesperson for the COVID-19 Response Julie Anne Genter.
“A person’s livelihood and their ability to provide for their families depends on their health, above all else. The National Party is knowingly putting that at risk.
“The Green Party has consistently said that the Government needs to follow an elimination strategy at least until vaccination rates are high enough to protect Māori and Pasifika communities, and vaccines are approved and available for our tamariki.
“And even at that point we need to make sure our health system can cope with a rise in cases. National Party’s claim that New Zealand can boost ICU capacity and recruit enough health care workers before 1 December is totally unrealistic.
“Leaving aside the fact that this is coming from the party that systematically underfunded the health service while in Government, it is just not possible to build capacity that quickly. Let alone recruit or train new ICU nurses.
“Setting a deadline after which National would be willing to let COVID spread regardless of whether enough people are vaccinated shows a wilful disregard for the health of our most marginalised communities.
“We know that there is one third of the eligible Māori population that has not had their first vaccination.
“If someone was to get their first vaccination tomorrow and wait six weeks until getting their second, they would not be fully protected by the time National wants all restrictions removed, even rules that are currently stopping COVID spreading any more than it already has.
“National’s plan shows it does not care about the lives of our most at risk communities. Not only this, but they would be putting the health of our children at risk too,” Julie Anne Genter says.
Te Mātāwaka chair, and Green’s Health spokesperson, Dr Elizabeth Kerekere reiterates the urgent call for increased funding and support for Māori and Pasifika health providers.
“The current COVID-19 outbreak is having a disproportionate impact on Māori and Pasifika communities, particularly in Auckland. While these communities have been leading the way to protect their whānau, hapū and iwi, it remains the case that Māori and Pasifika health providers do not have the resources they need to keep their communities safe.
“We need to listen to Māori experts such as Te Rōpū Whakakaupapa Urutā and Māori providers when it comes to protecting our whānau, not the National Party,” Dr Elizabeth Kerekere says.