Saturday, December 4

Ayesha Verrall: Applying for passports at vaccination appointments is ‘unacceptable’

Deputy Health Minister Ayesha Verrall says it is “unacceptable” that members of the Pasifika community have been asked for passports at Covid-19 vaccination appointments in the Bay of Plenty.

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Deputy Minister of Health Dr. Ayesha Verrall.
Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

Last night, DHB apologized to the Pasifika community and acknowledged the impact it had on the confidence of the Pasifika community.

“I can’t imagine what the reason would be for asking for that,” Verrall said. Morning report.

“It certainly makes the people we call to get vaccinated uncomfortable and stigmatized and it shouldn’t happen.

“No one needs to bring their passport to receive a vaccine or for any other interaction with the Covid response, be it testing, contact tracing or vaccination.

“We want everyone to be protected by the public health response regardless of their immigration status.”

Verrall said the government had told DHB that applying for passports was not expected.

Essential workplace rules

Verrall said the review of restrictions on essential work sites would take what officials are learning from site inspections when they are concerned about cases.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said yesterday that officials will review[https://wwwrnzconz/news/covid-19/450296/covid-19-lockdown-day-12-how-it-unfoldedifworkplacesworkonlevel4theycanmakeitsafeandeffectivewithcurrentrestrictions[https://wwwcovid-19/450296/covid-19-lockdown-day-12-how-it-unfoldedwhetherworkplacesoperatinginlevel4areableallosafelyandeffectivelywiththecurrentrestrictions[https://wwwrnzconz/news/covid-19/450296/covid-19-lockdown-day-12-how-it-unfoldedsiloslugaresdetrabajofuncionanenelnivel4puedenhacerlodeformasegurayeficazconlasrestriccionesactuales[https://wwwrnzconz/news/covid-19/450296/covid-19-lockdown-day-12-how-it-unfoldedwhetherworkplacesoperatinginlevel4areabletodososafelyandeffectivelywiththecurrentrestrictions

“One of the things that you do is make sure the common areas where staff take breaks are also safe,” Verrall said.

Epidemiologists have called for increased use of masks, a look at whether the number of workers deemed essential can be restricted, and better ventilation in workplaces.

Verrall said there was a limit to the number of essential workers that could be cut.

“Obviously, people need to eat and they need access to their medications, so there is a limit to the amount of movement that can be reduced.”

She said running a workplace in staff bubbles would be a safer arrangement than all the employees mixing with each other.

Epidemiologist Michael Baker said work environments should be better ventilated and masks should be worn in workplaces at all times.

He said there was a need to review the alert levels system to keep up with what is known about transmission through the air, and that some form of mask use should be applied at all levels.

“We have to redesign it on the basis of controlling indoor aerosols and transmission,” he said. Morning report.

“We have had such dramatic examples of how this virus can be transmitted with fleeting contact indoors.

Microbiologist Siouxsie Wiles has also called for better ventilation in workplaces, saying that N95 masks should be used in companies with alert levels 3 and 4.

Dr. Wiles said that many companies were established to deal with the risk of transmission through droplets, rather than through the air.

“If you are in an indoor environment and you have poor ventilation, it is a closed environment with many people inside, or even if there are not many people but it is closed, it does not matter if there are plastic screens or two meters away. The virus is transmitted by the air and it will be broadcast, “he said.

In some cases, the screens may even need to be removed to help with ventilation, he said.

Vaccination ate

Verrall said the government would try to keep vaccines at the current rate, but that one option would be to go back to the original demand plan.

Verrall said that under current supply agreements a rate of 50,000 to 60,000 vaccines per day would be sustainable.

On one day last week, about 90,000 doses were administered.

Acceptance had increased since the start of level 4, possibly because capacity was released in the health system, especially in primary care, he said.

“We want to try and allow the over-performance of our model to continue, so we are working on ways to achieve this.”

Verrall said there were enough beds and ICU staff to handle an outbreak by reallocating the use of facilities in hospitals.

New Zealand does not have the level of intensive care beds that other countries have, he said.

Intensive care support personnel take several years to train, so it is not a problem that can be solved in 18 months, but the government had added additional ventilators and additional trained personnel.

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