Covid-19 Delta variant is “Much more infectious” so we must be vigilant says Pacific doctor

With the announcement of a snap lockdown at Alert Level 4 by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, people should feel reassured that the government is making the right decision, says Dr Collin Tukuitonga.

The sudden announcement comes after a positive Covid-19 Delta community case in Auckland. The 58-year-old man who tested positive is from Devonport but travelled to the Coromandel last weekend while unaware. The government has made the decision for all of New Zealand to move to Alert Level 4 for three days, while the period for Auckland and the Coromandel is seven days.

Officials have confirmed five positive Covid-19 Delta cases to date and are working quickly to trace any and every possible lead.

Pasifika Medical Association (PMA) member Dr Tukuitonga stresses that the severity of the Delta variant should not be taken lightly as it is the most transmissible variant of Covid-19.

“It’s much more infectious. One case of delta could infect up to 9 people and then those 9 would infect another 9. It rises exponentially which basically means the disease will spread rapidly in the community,” he says.

“It spreads quite quickly so I thought the Alert Level 4 decision was the right decision because we want to try and get on top of it.”

With Pacific peoples being one of the more vulnerable communities at risk of suffering severely from Covid-19, Dr Tukuitonga says the Delta variant community cases are “bad news”.

“Covid-19 tends to affect people with underlying medical conditions like diabetes, obesity and respiratory conditions. Our communities have those underlying conditions which puts them at a higher risk so that’s why it is of a particular concern for us.

Where you have a virus that spreads quickly like the delta variant – the conditions of our people, the housing and overcrowding, means it would spread like wildfire. That’s why we want to get on top of this as quickly as possible.”

However, he encourages everyone to play their part during this time.

“I think the government is doing the right thing and that we should do our part and stay home, minimise interacting with others and follow the public health advice,” says Dr Tukuitonga.

“People are generally aware of the risks and will take the actions necessary to reduce the risk to their family members.

Dr Tukuitonga says it is important that we do what is necessary to keep ourselves and those around us safe such as wearing masks in public, washing and sanitizing our hands, abiding by social distancing rules and using the COVID Tracer app.

“We’ve done this before and we’ve been successful and I’m pretty sure if we do it again, we’ll come out good as well.”

More information about the Delta variant can be found on the Ministry of Health website

Details of alert level 4 and the other alert levels can be found on the COVID-19 government website

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Date: Wednesday 18 August 2021