The Green Party has been left wondering if the Government signed off for the summer break before putting in place a COVID plan.
“Right now, the Government should be gearing up for a massive summer COVID communications campaign, not just sending out a media release and hoping for the best,” says Teanau Tuiono, Green Party spokesperson for the COVID-19 response.
“Over the last 12 months, we have moved away from collective public health messaging to messaging COVID as a matter of individual responsibility.
“A major component of the Government response at the beginning of the pandemic was the communication of collective public health measures.
“We need to communicate these again. Not just urging individual caution - but a concerted public health push.
“Of course, the measures we ask people to follow will be different to what they were in 2020 but we need to get back to clear public health messaging that makes clear that we have to work together to protect those around us.
“Over the last week alone, 42,740 new cases of COVID-19 reported in the community and 64 people have died. Nearly 600 people are currently in hospital with the virus. If this continues, it is going to put our health system under massive strain.
“Whatever way you look at it, COVID will be a feature of many people’s summer break. One modeller has recently predicted that as many as one in 20 New Zealanders could have COVID in the week of Christmas.
“Our biggest worry is what this means for our immunocompromised and disabled whānau.
“It is estimated that when most of the remaining COVID protections were relaxed or removed in September transmission went up by about 20%.
“We need to make it clear and understandable again the simple steps people can take to keep others safe.
“Everywhere we go, there should be clear and consistent messages reminding people to wear a mask, to test regularly, and to get boosted.
“While strong public health messaging is vital, the reality is that public health measures work best when they become part of our everyday lives. As a minimum the Government also needs to be able to guarantee clean air inside buildings through air quality monitoring, strong ventilation standards, and air purification,” says Teanau Tuiono.