One year on: Pacific communities continue to show resilience

Today, the country goes into lockdown for a fourth time –  Auckland at Alert Level 3 and the rest of New Zealand at Alert Level 2. Today also marks one year since the Ministry of Health confirmed New Zealand’s first case of Covid-19 infections.

That moment a year ago saw many families heavily affected by the health and social impacts of the pandemic. The recent lockdown announcement reflects the uncertainty of the virus and stresses the importance for families to adhere to the rules of the Alert Levels and follow the health guidelines – such as wearing masks, washing hands and social distancing.

Despite the hardships and the impact of yet another sudden lockdown period, Pasifika Medical Association (PMA) member, Dr Corina Grey, says the Pacific community should be applauded for how they have responded in keeping their families safe.

Dr Grey, a public physician who led a medical team responsible for testing and contact tracing within the Pacific community in Auckland, says the community continue to respond quickly, stepping up and displaying resilience. From church groups and community organisations to youth and school leadership – everyone has contributed to ensure families stay safe during the pandemic.

“I acknowledge how hard Covid-19 has been for many Pacific families – the impact of lockdown, the different outbreaks that have been happening.

One positive reflection for me is how well the Pacific community has come together during the crisis.  We saw high rates of testing for Covid-19 in the community and we saw amazing community initiatives and support – like Pasifika Futures and their partners, who provided food and care packages to families across the country.

With the pandemic, it’s not just the health profession that’s involved. Taking care of people’s social and financial needs is just as important as taking care of their health needs.

It was great to see the resilience from  the Pacific community.”

With a population of 5.1 million, New Zealand has had 26 Covid-19 deaths and more than 2300 cases. Worldwide there have been more than 112 million cases confirmed with more than 2.5 million deaths. New Zealand was forced into three lockdowns to stop further community spread, experienced restricted international travel, and saw businesses collapse and many job losses due to the pandemic.

Senior PMA member, Dr Colin Tukuitonga, who is a member of the Ministry of Health’s Covid-19 Technical Advisory Group, says New Zealand’s Covid response has been hailed as one of the most effective in the world.

“One important consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic has been the restriction of the movement of people within and between nations. Furthermore, people have been forced into very restrictive ‘lockdowns’ as a way of reducing the transmission of the pandemic.

In New Zealand, we are fortunate to have had high levels of public approval of the elimination strategy and the majority of the people have complied to the advice of our leaders and health officials to remain at home. This has been a key feature of the success of our national response,” he says.

He also commends the Pacific community for how they have responded to the Covid crisis.

“Pasifika communities have responded well; there were high rates of testing and good mobilisation in response to the Auckland August cluster. At the one year anniversary of the Covid-19 pandemic, we can be pleased with our efforts and the beginning of the national vaccination programme is a reason for optimism.

Looking back, despite the high death toll and profound impact of the disease on human populations, we can be pleased that science has allowed us to triumph over adversity.”

#pmafamily #pmaunite

Date: Sunday 28 February 2021