“Figures released by the Breast Cancer Foundation today revealing 133 women are undiagnosed with the disease show the toll lockdowns are taking on New Zealanders,” says ACT Deputy Leader and Health spokesperson Brooke van Velden.

“Whenever we talk about “opening up” from COVID, journalists ask how many COVID deaths are acceptable. Well, how many women dying from cancer is acceptable?

“The Government has become so focussed on COVID it can’t see the bigger picture. Sadly, people are missing screening for breast cancer and many other diseases.

“Depression is increasing as business owners struggle, people lose jobs and deal with being locked in their homes, missing school and socialising.

“These 133 women are someone’s grandmother, mother, sister, daughter or wife. It’s heart breaking. Breast screening has been set back 10 years by COVID lockdowns.

“The cost of COVID will haunt us for decades, financially, emotionally and with our health and education.

“The Ardern Government has made much of delivering the world’s first ‘Wellbeing’ budget, while Treasury has gone down the rabbit hole of developing a ‘Living Standards Framework.’ Both initiatives were supposed to ensure Government policy took account of New Zealanders’ overall wellbeing.

“During the past 18 months, Government policy has acutely impacted sensitive areas of New Zealanders’ wellbeing, but we’ve heard nothing about it from the Government and Treasury has been quiet as a mouse. Both the

‘Wellbeing Budget’ and the Living Standards Framework are completely discredited by the experience of COVID-19.

“Government should consider total health and wellbeing when making decisions. We can’t afford the tunnel vision focus on COVID-19.

“ACT has a plan to reopen New Zealand. It’s time for the Government to set a date for Freedom Day. On that date we should be able to open up, continue medical procedures, go back to school, go back to work and save lives.”