Coronavirus: Pacific community accounts for three-quarters of Auckland COVID-19 cluster

The Pacific community has been hit hard by the Auckland COVID-19 outbreak - accounting for three-quarters of positive cases.

That includes several from the Cook Islands - including former Prime Minister Dr Joe Williams. He's renowned for his medical work both in New Zealand and the Cook Islands.

Auckland's COVID-19 cluster now has 74 cases - with five new on Thursday. Dr Williams is one of five in hospital, with one of those in intensive care.

Kiki Maoate, Dr Williams' nephew, is a paediatric surgeon and President of the Pasifika Medical Association.

"Uncle Joe - he just needs to get on with it and get over it and come back out again, so we can carry on with the good work," Maoate told Newshub.

Pacific people make up 74 percent of the Auckland cluster - with 58 cases. Māori are 14 percent with 11 cases, and Pakeha or other ethnicities are 12 percent with nine cases.

Maoate is so concerned about Pacific people not getting tested, he is calling on them just to say they have a sore throat even if they haven't.

"I'm happy for our community to say they've got a sore throat so that they then need to be tested because of that comment," Maoate said. 

Dr Joe Williams.
Dr Joe Williams. Photo credit: File

And he said some Cook Islands innovation is coming.

"They will start making their own masks with the Cook Island flavour to it and this is a way of mitigating the pressures on people wearing masks - and protecting themselves at the same time."

Maoate's message is simple.

"It's about staying at home - isolate yourselves and you'll save lives - as simple as that."