Level 3 compliance protects our community, says senior Pacific doctor

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A senior Pacific public health specialist says the call for Auckland to return to Level 3 and the rest of the county to Level 2 is essential to control the Covid-19 resurgence, especially for the Pacific community as they are the most vulnerable.

Dr. Colin Tukuitonga, a senior member of the Pasifika Medical Association who is part of the Auckland Regional Public Health Service that consults to the government, says lockdown is the best way to protect the community after four people living in Auckland tested positive for Covid-19 yesterday to become the first cases of community transmission in weeks.

Three adults and one child from the same family had tested positive for Covid-19 with no clear origin for the infection – such as overseas travel or a close connection with someone who had travelled overseas recently.

“We don’t have medicines to cure this disease and we don’t have a vaccine, so social distancing and lockdown is the only public health measure to fight this,” says Dr Tukuitonga.

“Lockdown has proven to be is effective. We have seen what is happening in the US where there’s been no lockdown. People need to understand, if we have widespread community transmission in New Zealand then the Pacific communities will be the ones that are most affected.”

He says that the last time the country was in lockdown, the Pacific community had the least infections of Covid-19 of any ethnic group in New Zealand – an example of our collective approach to shared responsibility for each other’s welfare.

“It’s important to make clear that the Pacific community were least affected the first time around. I strongly encourage the Pasifika community to follow government advice, wash your hands, adhere to strict hygiene and social distancing guidelines and avoid mass gatherings.”

He also says that there is a lot of misinformation being spread about the virus and the community should only get their information from credible sources, like the Ministry of Health and public officials.

“Don’t listen to people who are advocating conspiracy theories. They are a problem, and they could do a lot of damage in our communities because some are vulnerable and may not have the ability to discern what is accurate information and what is not.”

Despite the inconvenience the new lockdown guidelines may cause, Dr Tukuitonga says it will save lives in the long run.

“Some people may be annoyed about being restricted about doing what they plan to do. But being in lockdown quickly and decisively protects our community and each other.”

#pmafamily Date: Wednesday 12 August 2020