New Zealand rules out lockdown as it prepares for Omicron outbreak

Published on : Thursday, January 20, 2022

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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that COVID-19 restrictions will be tightened across the country if there is a community transmission of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus but she ruled out lockdown.

New Zealand’s tight controls and geographic advantage has helped it remain free of the Omicron variant in the community, although many cases have now been reported at quarantine facilities at the border.

A “red” traffic light setting would be imposed within 24 to 48 hours of Omicron arriving in the community, Ardern told a news conference, which would mean masks would be mandated and there would be limits on public gatherings.

Ardern said, adding that Omicron would eventually arrive when we have evidence of Omicron transmitting in the community we won’t use lockdowns, instead the whole country will move into Red within 24 to 48 hours. They know from other countries it can take as little as 14 days for Omicron cases to grow from the hundreds into the thousands.

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