New Zealand moves away from Covid-19 elimination strategy as heavy restrictions didn't get cases to zero

They are counting on vaccines to protect everyone.

Lean Jinghui | October 04, 2021, 06:22 PM

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New Zealand has abandoned its Covid-19 elimination strategy as the Delta variant continues to persist, according to Reuters.

Instead, it will be looking at ways to live with the virus and control its spread, as vaccination numbers rise in the nation.

Return to zero "difficult"

During a daily Covid-19 press conference on Oct. 4, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern acknowledged that with the current Covid-19 outbreak, and with Delta, the return to zero is "incredibly difficult".

She added:

"With this outbreak, it's clear that a long period of heavy restrictions has not got us to zero cases. But that is ok... elimination was important because we didn't have vaccines. Now we do. So we can begin to change the way we do things."

As of Monday, the country recorded a further 29 new Covid-19 cases, taking the total tally in New Zealand to 1,357.

Most of these cases were in Auckland, which has been in lockdown since Aug. 18.

The country had earlier been placed on a snap lockdown following the appearance of one Covid-19 case in the city.

Vaccination rate doubled

Ardern said only 42 per cent of the population had received one dose of the vaccination then, with 25 per cent fully vaccinated.

The numbers have since doubled – at 84 per cent who have received a single dose and 52 per cent who have received both doses respectively.

Ardern likened vaccines to "individual armour", adding that having more people vaccinated would mean that New Zealand no longer needs to rely on heavy restrictions to "act as a barricade" for them.

According to Reuters, Ardern had previously said that strict lockdowns will end, once 90 per cent of the eligible population is vaccinated.

During the Oct. 4 press conference, Ardern said:

"This is a change in approach we were always going to make over time. Our Delta outbreak has accelerated that transition. Vaccines will support it."

Phased end to Auckland lockdown

Ardern shared that a phased end to the lockdown in Auckland will happen from Tuesday, Oct. 5, 11:59pm.

While Auckland will remain at "Alert Level 3", people in the city will be able to leave their homes to connect with loved ones outdoors from Wednesday, with a cap of 10 people.

Early childhood education will be allowed to resume, and people can also move around for recreation purposes.

This means that people can go to beaches and parks, and even go hunting.

However, retail, hospitality and offices will remain shut.

The remaining restrictions in Auckland will be eased in phases, and reviewed on a weekly basis.

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Top image via Jacinda Ardern Facebook