A week ago, on August 17, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that the country was entering strict containment after the first case of the coronavirus in six months was reported in the city of Auckland.
Ms Ardern urged New Zealanders to follow lockdown rules to stop the spread of the virus, reassuring people that “we’ve been here before” and “we know the elimination strategy is working”.
Until recently, New Zealand’s zero Covid response to the pandemic had been hailed as the best in the world. But as the highly contagious Delta variant continues to spread across the country, with 41 new positive Covid cases reported on Tuesday bringing the total number of infections during this outbreak to 148, officials say the total elimination does not ‘is perhaps no longer possible.
New Zealand Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said over the weekend that Delta’s spread was making the country’s existing protections “less adequate and less robust.” However, Ms Ardern said this week that she would stick to the elimination strategy while announcing that the country’s Level 4 lockdown measures would continue until the end of this week.
Meanwhile, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said it was “absurd” for regions like New Zealand to continue to seek the total elimination of the virus and that staying cut off from the rest of the world was like living in a “cave”.
The New Zealand government has also been criticized for being slow in rolling out immunization – to date, only 20% of the country’s 5.1 million people have been fully immunized.
Cathy O’Sullivan, who lives in Auckland and is the director of digital news on New Zealand’s news platform NewsHub, told presenter Sorcha Pollak that even though people are frustrated to go back to lockdown, they stay determined to crush the latest outbreak with movement restrictions.
“Most people agree that the best option is to go strong now and relax later if it turns out that we have avoided the worst. But we know that with Delta there really isn’t a second chance, ”Ms. O’Sullivan told In the News.
Nonetheless, New Zealanders increasingly recognize that the country must reopen its borders soon and is not “some kind of magical state” that can fend off covid, Ms. O’Sullivan said. “People want to reconnect with the world. “
In the News is presented by journalists Sorcha Pollak and Conor Pope.
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