Coronavirus: Families at centre of outbreak anxious but getting better

Eleven people are part of the cluster.
Eleven people are part of the cluster. Photo credit: Google Maps.

By Rowan Quinn of RNZ

COVID-19 positive families at the centre of the latest outbreak are anxious but getting better as they quarantine at Jet Park, says a woman who's been supporting them.

The Fono health and social services centre has been checking in daily with the 11 infected people and four close contacts at the Jet Park.

Whānau Ora manager Europa Kupu said most had dwindling symptoms but there were other anxieties - often to do with money, jobs or making sure families not in the Jet Park were ok.

The team started by offering most a food parcel.

"We usually do the drop off at the front. There's usually the security there and they just take it through to the families," she said.

They then helped with advice and other support for finances, welfare or keeping an eye on family members at home.

The Fono, along with South Seas Healthcare, was also helping some of the thousands of people isolating in the community.

The Ministry of Health has asked every Papatoetoe High School family to isolate at home for two weeks, as well as customers at Kmart Botany and some other locations of interest.

South Seas Healthcare chief executive Lemalu Silao Vaisola-Sefo said a lot of its focus was on the school community.

"The anxiety level among the families, it's got nothing to do with swabbing or COVID. It's got something to do with the kids not going to school now - how's that going to impact on their education, and self-isolating at home, in terms of employment," he said.

Ashwin Kumar was isolating with his wife and three children, the youngest of whom is at Papatoetoe High School.

When they were told to go back into isolation on Tuesday, they did not have ready money or easy access to food, he said.

He called South Seas Healthcare for advice.

"They said don't you worry, just stay home, keep calm and we are on our way to help you. And they were there, they dropped a food parcel and, oh, it was such a relief," he said.

Isolation was difficult his children are well and his son had tested negative twice.

He was grateful for the support and kind people, he said.

Both the Fono and South Seas were helping people to navigate the access the support they were entitled to from WINZ and other services quickly.

It was early days, but demand was growing as people realised the challenges ahead.

Vaisola-Sefo said the ripples went much wider, with extended families worrying about those self-isolating

Kupu said the Fono was helping about 50 families, some of whom were casual workers or not in traditional employment so did not have sick leave or easy access to help.

Others were seeking advice on what type of contact they were and what they needed to do.

"They're not aware of what's happening and what sort of support is out there so we do a lot of reassurance and pastoral care for these families to make sure we provide reassurance and the right sort of care for them," she said.

Those who needed support could contact South Seas Healthcare or the Fono directly.