New Zealand calls off ‘Zero-COVID’ strategy amid Delta outbreak

 Tuesday, October 5, 2021 

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New Zealand

New Zealand has decided to call off its long-standing COVID-19 elimination or ‘Zero-COVID’ strategy amid the challenging delta variant outbreak. On Monday, October 4, 2021, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said her aim was never to record zero cases but to stamp out the virus effectively. Authorities mentioned that, the country will focus on increasing vaccination rates and learning to live with the virus.

The latest decision comes in a time when Australia is dealing with high numbers of delta outbreak appears to be leveling out. Prime Minister Ardern mentioned that with the latest outbreak and delta variant the return to zero is incredibly difficult. She mentioned that the country was always ready to make a change in approach over time.

She also said that the delta outbreak has accelerated the transition and vaccines will support the change. She stated that it is clear that a long period of heavy restrictions has not got us to zero cases but the new move is also ok because elimination was important as the country did not have vaccinations back in the day.

She concluded that as the country now has vaccination it can begin to change the way it planned to do things. The move comes weeks after the biggest city of New Zealand, Auckland, recorded its first COVID case after nearly six months of no infections. The city has now been under lockdown for close to 50 days, with restrictions extended to some other parts of the country. 

Restrictions in Auckland are set to be scaled back in phases starting Wednesday, Ardern said, allowing residents to leave their homes and connect with loved ones in the outdoors.  In the face of increased pressure over her approach, Ardern said she was not looking to record zero cases, but to stamp out the virus in an aggressive manner. 

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