Pacific frontline health workers' exposure increasing

The Chair of the New Zealand-based Pacific Leadership Forum, Teleiai Edwin Puni, has expressed fears frontline Pacific healthcare workers are stressed and fatigued due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Teleiai told the Samoa Observer in a telephone interview on Saturday that the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic remains a concern for frontline Pacific community health care providers who are doing tests. 

"There is now a higher risk of our Pacific clinicians getting it," he said.

The wider implications of Pacific clinicians getting infected is them being unable to carry out their duties, which could lead to a shortage of doctors and nurses to manage the overall health of the Pacific community in New Zealand.

According to Teleiai, a lot of people are working in essential services including health workers and the demand for them to be engaged in quarantine facilities is a concern.

Service providers who currently employ Pacific doctors and nurses have an obligation to look after their safety and welfare and at some point draw a line on their engagement, he added.

"To the extent that there's got to be a line where we would have to say, we got to slow down, we got to stop.”

With the pandemic now heading into its sixth month, Teleiai reiterated that they continue to be concerned. 

"They are also affected mentally and physically with a long duration of the COVID work," he said.

"Pacific people are becoming more vulnerable, more than ever right now with the second wave.

"And that is clearly indicated now we have a Pacific death, whereas in the first wave there was none. 

“And now with the Auckland clusters, it's directly hitting our Pacific people so the vulnerability of our Pacific is much much higher than when it all started.”

Teleiai further emphasised that the longer the COVID-19 pandemic spreads the more effect it will have on Pacific communities.

According to the World Health Organisation [WHO], New Zealand has reported one new case since Friday, 11 September to add to a total of 1,442 cases with 24 deaths. There have been no deaths reported in the last 24 hours. 

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