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30/03/2020: COVID-19 PANDEMIC RESPONSE - PDATE FROM MAORI HEALTH DIRECTORATE - AMENDED TANGIHANGA GUIDELINES, PPE FOR ESSENTIAL WORKERS, FLU VACCINES

Submitted by admin2 on Mon, 30/03/2020 - 10:27pm

Tēnā anō tātou katoa,
Pērā rawa i te awa e haehae nei i te whenua ko te hekenga o roimata e haehae nei i te ngākau marū mō rātou kua riro ki te pō. Nei au ka kī atu ki a rātou, hoatu koutou ki te Pūtahitanga o Rēhua, ki te whare whakamoe ariki, ki reira koutou moe ai, okioki e. Ko rātou ki a rātou, ko tātou ki a tātou.

Overnight, our total number of cases increased by 75 to a total of 589 confirmed and probable cases in Aotearoa – 12 of those cases are in hospital. New data being collected breaks the total number of cases down by ethnicity. As a result, we know that 27 of the 589 cases are Māori.

Since the outbreak started, 63 people have recovered, and sadly as many of you will know, one woman has passed away. My thoughts are with the woman’s family and loved ones at this time. Mā te atua rātou e tiaki i tēnei wā taumaha hārukiruki.

Kāti rā, I have three kaupapa I would like to speak to in this pānui:

1. Amended guidelines for tangihanga

2. Personal Protective Equipment for essential workers

3. Flu vaccines

AMENDED GUIDELINES FOR TANGIHANGA

Last week, I released a set of guidelines for tangihanga during Alert Level 4. We received a lot of feedback on those guidelines from funeral directors, iwi leaders, Māori experts, and most importantly, from whānau.

Many of you were in support of the guidelines, recognising the pressing need to protect our Māori communities. Some of you had constructive feedback on how we could amend the guidelines to better support whānau who are grieving. I have heard your feedback and have taken it into careful consideration.

I have always intended for my team to regularly update our advice and guidelines to be accurate, relevant to whānau, and responsive to change – as such, we have updated the official guidelines for tangihanga during Alert Level 4.

This new set of guidelines will ease restrictions on whānau already struggling with loss while maintaining the overall requirements of Alert Level 4. It will allow for whānau who were in the same isolation bubble as their deceased loved one to go with the tūpāpaku to the funeral home and then to the urupā also. The full set of guidelines can be read on our website here. https://www.health.govt.nz/system/files/documents/pages/covid-19-guideli...

My team will continue to work with trusted experts to ensure our whānau feel heard, understood, and supported throughout this pandemic.

We will be issuing further guidelines for whānau on what to do during Alert Levels 3, 2 and 1 over the coming weeks. It’s important to remember that once we come out of Alert Level 4, COVID-19 is still a real threat and we will need to remain vigilant.

It is also important whānau are aware that should things change during the Alert Level 4 lockdown, we may be required to review these guidelines again.

PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT FOR ESSENTIAL WORKERS

As an essential worker you are playing a vital and much appreciated role in keeping New Zealand running during Alert Level 4.

You may be wondering if you need to be using personal protective equipment (PPE) in order to keep yourself safe during this time. You may also be wanting to know what to do to protect those in your bubble when you return home.

The Ministry has collated all the information you need to know about PPE and put it on one single page here. https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-nov...

On this webpage you can find:

· Tips on how to keep you and your whānau safe as an essential worker

· PPE and hand hygiene posters

· PPE and hand washing videos

· More information for specific groups such as community-based midwives and health care workers at border-control.

The content available on this page provides guidance for all essential workers across a variety of work settings.

FLU VACCINES

The Ministry is working with the health and disability sector to ensure influenza vaccines are distributed equitably across New Zealand, to enable those at greatest risk to get vaccinated as soon as possible – 800,000 influenza vaccines have already been distributed. As the next shipments of vaccines arrive in New Zealand, we will be making sure that deliveries to communities at greatest risk are prioritised.

Free vaccinations are now available for kaumātua aged 65 and older, pregnant women, and other people with serious health conditions like severe asthma, diabetes, heart, lung and kidney problems or cancer. Young children with a history of severe respiratory illness are also eligible for free vaccination.

Out of the at-risk groups, Māori and Pacific immunisation rates have historically been significantly lower than those of the wider population. Additionally, the impact of previous pandemics has fallen disproportionately on Māori and Pacific people - for these reasons we urge providers more than ever to make sure the influenza vaccination is made available to the greatest extent to these communities, particularly kaumātua and māmā who are hapū. Healthcare and other frontline workers are also able to be vaccinated early.

Please encourage your at-risk whānau, especially your kaumātua, to get their free influenza vaccinations as soon as possible. GPs and other providers are using different ways to make sure they can keep their patients healthy as they vaccinate them, that suit them and their practice. Encourage whānau to ring ahead to check when and where their GP/pharmacy/Māori Health Provider are giving vaccines.

Although the influenza vaccination won’t protect whānau from COVID-19, it will help protect against a serious disease that kills hundreds of New Zealanders every winter.

Please can you help:

1. Ensure your provider networks know about these COVID-19 updates.

2. Share information through your local networks to ensure our whānau, hapū and iwi know the updated advice and how to keep themselves safe following good public health hygiene practices.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me or my team at: maorihealth@health.govt.nz

Mā te wāhi ngaro koutou e tiaki, e manaaki i tēnei wā.

Nāhaku me aku mihi aroha,

John Whaanga
Deputy Director-General | Māori Health Directorate
Waea pūkoro: 021 578 040 | Īmēra: John.Whaanga@health.govt.nz