Housing crisis could be to blame for spike in Covid cases


Many of the cases this week have been in large households, and people in emergency or transitional housing, health officials report

A gradual declining trend in community Covid case numbers has been interrupted, with 45 new infections reported today. While this could be the first sign of a rise in transmission after Auckland’s drop to Alert Level 3, Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield says quite a proportion of our cases at the moment are among groups of people in transitional or emergency housing.

Bloomfield indicated that as many as 40 emergency and transitional housing locations are being responded to as locations at medium to high risk. He also acknowledged that due to their circumstances, many of the people living in these locations have been moving around in levels 3 & 4.

“The Covid-19 delta variant has reached communities that are made vulnerable by poverty and housing overcrowding,” explains National Hauora Coalition Clincal Director, Dr Rawiri McKree Jansen.

“These communities have the most exposure to Covid because they are overcrowded, have less income and have been historically poorly served by health and social sectors. These communities also have many low paid essential workers who cannot work from home.”

University of Otago Senior Lecturer, Lesley Gray is not surprised that those in precarious housing, with fewer resources are being most impacted in this pandemic, in particular with Delta variant that thrives in overcrowded environments.

“Those of us working in the disaster risk reduction and public health space recognise that the poorest and most marginalized people in society with the greatest socio-economic disadvantage are at greater risk.

“This is not the fault of such populations. It is the circumstances and limited resources that limit options. Such circumstances are at the heart of the concept of disaster vulnerability.

“Our aim as a country should be to leave ‘no one behind’ when rebuilding from this pandemic.”