(Wellington) New Zealand admitted on Sunday that its “Zero COVID-19” strategy was threatened by the spread of a coronavirus outbreak due to the Delta variant.
Posted on Aug 22, 2021 at 12:27 pm
“This (delta) is unlike anything we have known since the beginning of the pandemic,” said the minister. “This changes everything, it means that all of our existing measures seem less suitable and raises questions about the future of our long-term strategy,” said COVID-19 Minister Chris Hipkins on the TVNZ channel.
He reported 21 new cases related to the outbreak that occurred in Auckland last week. The first local case of contamination in six months has resulted in national containment.
Mr Hipkins said this outbreak was much harder to contain than the previous ones because the Delta variant was very contagious.
“Its high level of contagion and the speed at which the virus spreads are things that have put a strain on our systems, despite the fact that we have taken the best preventive measures in the world,” he said.
New Zealand has been praised overseas for its effective management of the COVID-19 epidemic, which so far has killed only 26 people out of a population of five million. The archipelago has put strict border controls and mandated restrictions in place as soon as local cases arise.
Neighboring Australia is also pursuing a “zero COVID-19” target, which has been at risk from a continued outbreak of coronavirus cases related to the Delta variant since mid-June.
In New Zealand, this epidemic has highlighted the slowness of the vaccination campaign and raised voices criticizing the government’s negligence. Only 20% of the population is fully vaccinated, one of the lowest rates in the developed world.
National Party spokesman Chris Bishop said the new epidemic highlights government deficiencies in immunization, particularly due to supply difficulties.
Mr Hipkins stressed that elimination remains a top priority as the number of new cases now stands at 71 active cases, including 65 in Auckland and six in Wellington.
The national lockdown is due to end Tuesday evening, but Mr Hipkins said Auckland could face further restrictions even if lifted elsewhere.