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Vulnerable People Waikato CDEM’s Top Priority

On the first day of a state of emergency across New Zealand, the focus of Waikato Civil Defence and Emergency Management Group is “people, people, people”.

Civil Defence Group Controller Julian Snowball says he expects people will do the right thing, and that using emergency powers to close places, roads and reserves or setting up road blocks will not be necessary.

“We have to trust New Zealanders to understand the role we each have in preventing the spread of the virus. As a region I expect we will do our part, by following the rules, to protect our families and whanau and those of our neighbours.

“However, if we receive information that people are flouting the rules then I will not hesitate to use the powers necessary to protect our communities.”

The CDEM group is currently identifying vulnerable groups, particularly those who were already vulnerable before COVID-19.

“We’re talking about those who are supported by essential social services but those services are struggling to operate.”

Mr Snowball says many service organisations rely on volunteers but many of those volunteers were over 70 and can no longer work due to isolation rules.

“Services are crying out for volunteers, and there also many community volunteer groups popping up, but please, everyone needs to be mindful it’s family and whanau first, and operating with safe practices is paramount.”

Volunteering Waikato is taking expressions of interest from those who want to support their community during the COVID-19 response. People can do so at volunteeringwaikato.org.nz.

“We encourage people to go through Volunteering Waikato as they are coordinating the volunteer response,” says Mr Snowball.

All health updates on COVID-19 or information on community-based assessment centres are managed by the Ministry of Health.

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