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'Acting for change’

19 July 2022

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‘Be informed, be prepared’

Tuesday 5 April 2022 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Local, National

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‘Be informed, be prepared’
Ministry of Finance and Economic Management (MFEM) funded resources were presented to the Tupapa Maraerenga Puna Emergency Operations Centre coordinator Kopu Anguna and Eddie Drollet to assist work of Te Marae Ora Covid-19 response. Picture: LYDIA SIJP/22040409

Over 600 positive cases of Covid-19 have been recorded with the Tupapa Maraerenga Puna Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) who are also responsible for monitoring the village of Takuvaine through to Karekare in Upper Tupapa.

Coordinator of the Tupapa Puna EOC Kopu Anguna says like the other Puna on Rarotonga, they are short of volunteers.

“Our volunteers earn the minimum wage of $8 per hour, they should be earning at least $12 or $15 per hour. The work that they do is just incredible, they start early in the morning, trying to get to everyone in isolation … they on the go all the time,” said Anguna.

“And sometimes it’s impossible to monitor those who breach their isolation orders – whether they breach intentionally, or they didn’t know or didn’t understand their isolation orders – simply because we don’t have enough people.”

Every morning Zoom briefings are held between the Puna and Te Marae Ora health ministry, and daily changes to instructions to cope with the shifting landscape of Covid infectious are the norm. However, many times this causes confusion among the Puna committee.

“Our part as the Puna plays is as a support team, we are there to help with Te Marae Ora, we are not the health clinic team, we are there to help,” explained Anguna.

The Puna have helped Red Cross with the distribution of the welfare packs to homes, help monitor people in isolation, conduct RAT tests, tape and red flag properties and are on call when people in the community need assistance.

Due to the serious shortage of nurses on the island, the Tupapa Maraerenga Puna has only one clinical nurse, Ake Teiotu.

“I’m impressed with the staff in our clinic and with Ake who releases or sign people out,” said Anguna.

Some people are known to have released themselves after their seven days of isolation, roll up the tape and red flag neatly for the health officers or Puna to collect, she adds.

“You can’t blame them or the Puna, because there’s just not enough people on board, as long as people understand that…”

Anguna would like the community to be patient with the health workers.

“We have a large population to support and we don’t have many volunteers. Please be patient, there are not enough trained clinical health workers and some of the volunteers have now got jobs, so we are really left with hardly anyone. It’s good that we do have people like Keith Murphy who goes in at 9am to help with the RAT testing before he goes to work.”

Yesterday morning the RAT testing at the Tupapa Maraerenga Puna was supposed to start at 9am. People started arriving from 7.30am and had to be asked to return later, by 8.45am the testing station was full.

Te Marae Ora health ministry have asked volunteers in households to conduct their own RAT tests. “Please do it properly, be honest about it,” Anguna said.

Anguna’s advice to the community is to “be prepared” and have food available at home that can last for three days, since the government welfare packs cannot be delivered on the first day of isolation.

“People have been known to get angry because they had expected a welfare grocery pack on the same day they tested positive, so it can be challenging,” expressed Anguna.

“We are all doing the best we can, be prepared and be informed.”

The Tupapa Maraerenga Puna EOC is located in the Tupapa Centre, they can be contacted on phone 28181.