JACINDA ARDERN has announced New Zealand will be switching from its long-standing Covid elimination strategy to an approach focussed on virus suppression. Is New Zealand headed for coronavirus disaster?
New Zealand has been well guarded against the high coronavirus death tolls across the world over the last 19 months, closing its borders almost entirely with its Covid-zero approach. There’s no doubt the strategy has worked, likely saving tens of thousands of lives in the South Pacific nation – and it has kept New Zealanders largely free from restrictions, while much of the rest of the world shuttered up.
Only 27 deaths from COVID-19 have occurred in New Zealand, resulting in worldwide admiration and cross-party support.
But things have now taken a turn for the worse, with Auckland grappling with an outbreak of the Delta variant.
The second-largest city is now in its second month of a level three lockdown, which restricts all but nonessential movement that requires proof.
Restrictions are being lifted today, but the veneer is beginning to wash away from Ms Ardern’s success as the country battles to keep its numbers low.
This week, as the number of Covid cases bounced from 12 cases one day to 45 the next, formally supportive opposition parties began to decry Ms Ardern’s attempts to suppress the virus.
Both National and its smaller rival, the ACT party, want to do away with it in favour of “vigorous suppression”.
Both want to open the borders soon, and both want to end lockdowns – for good.
National Party leader Judith Collins has declared “things have changed” and has launched her alternative pandemic response plan.
Until recently, Ms Collins had been “very supportive” of Ms Ardern’s response to the pandemic.
She said: “Even though it did take a little while to close the borders, they got on to it … the soundest move seemed to be to go into lockdowns, until we could assess as a country what was the right response.”
But now the Delta variant has arrived, she claims the Government’s response is inadequate, and that the country cannot continue down the path of lockdowns.
The NP leader is advocating for a permanent scrap to lockdowns once the country has acquired 75 percent immunity and reopening borders when 85 percent is achieved – and bearing in mind New Zealand has little in the way of natural. “Brinkwire Summary News”.