Prime Minister Jacintha Artern He announced a prudent plan to increase isolation in Auckland despite the more serious eruption.
Since the onset of the epidemic, New Zealand has adopted an unusual zero-tolerance strategy for the virus, which requires rigorous isolation and aggressive contact tracking.
Until recently, that elimination strategy worked well for a country of 5 million people, which recorded just 27 deaths from the virus.
While other countries experienced higher mortality and disrupted their daily lives, New Zealanders returned safely to workplaces, schools and stadiums from local epidemics.
But that changed when the delta variance occurred in August with a return traveler from Australia leaving the isolated center.
Although New Zealand imposed severe isolation after finding only one local case, it was not enough to stop the eruption completely. One factor is the spread of the disease among some groups with high resentment towards authorities such as gang members and homeless people living in makeshift hostels.
With 29 new cases detected on Monday, the eruption has surpassed 1,300 cases. Some have been found outside of Auckland.
A seven-week prison sentence in Auckland helped contain the explosion, Artern said.
“In this explosion, it is clear that long-term strict controls do not lead to zero cases,” Artern said. “But that’s okay. It’s important to get rid of it because we do not have vaccines. We have it now, so we can start changing the way we do things.”
The vaccination campaign in New Zealand started slowly compared to other developed countries. The incidence rate rose in August after the outbreak began, but has since dropped significantly.
About 65% of New Zealanders have received at least one dose and 40% have been fully vaccinated. 79% of people over the age of 12 have received at least one dose.
According to the order, which starts on Tuesday, Residents of Auckland can meet loved ones outside from another home, schools for small children will reopen, and people will be able to hit the beach. Dates for the gradual opening of shops and later, bars and restaurants are yet to be decided.
The eradication strategy has served the country well, but the president has always sought to make a shift to vaccine protection, which has been accelerated by the delta variation.
Although the government’s strategy had widespread support from the people, it began to receive more criticism. Hundreds of people protested against the isolation over the weekend.
Opposition legislator Chris Bishop argued that the government had no clear strategy to manage the eruption, other than complete surrender.
However, Artern noted that most measures will be taken to contain the explosion. These include comprehensive communication tracking and isolating victims. “We have good reasons to be optimistic about the future,” Artern said. “But we can’t rush.”
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