(Wellington) New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern acknowledged on Monday that the archipelago’s “zero COVID-19” strategy has failed to halt the spread of the virus in Auckland and that a new approach is emerging.
Posted Oct 4, 2021 at 7:35 am
For months, the country has been protected from the pandemic, in part due to strict border measures that have allowed New Zealanders to live almost normal lives.
But after the emergence of a case of the Delta variant of the coronavirus in Auckland in August, containment had to be put in place.
The two million residents of the country’s largest city have been confined for seven weeks, while the national lockdown was lifted in early September.
Ms. Ardern admitted that the highly contagious Delta variant is a game changer and cannot be eliminated.
“Even with the long-term restrictions that we have imposed, we clearly have not reached zero level,” he lamented.
Ms Ardern has announced that she will not immediately abandon her strategy to eliminate COVID-19, but that Auckland’s containment will be relaxed even if the number of new cases does not decrease.
He added that this change, which is a major advance over his goal of “zero COVID-19,” has been made possible by a sharp increase in the number of people vaccinated.
“Eliminating the virus was important because we didn’t have a vaccine, now we do, so we can start changing the way we do things,” he told reporters.
Auckland will remain confined, but each week the government will study the possibility of lifting certain measures.
The residents of the city will be able to meet outdoors in groups of up to 10 people from Wednesday and in the coming weeks measures such as the reopening of shops and schools will be considered.
Opposition leader Judith Collins criticized Ms Ardern, saying it was just a “vague list of intentions” and not a coherent strategy to replace the “COVID zero target” 19 ”.
The archipelago of five million people has recorded only 27 deaths since the start of the pandemic.