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NZ virus strategy dangerous: health chief

Australia’s top health official says New Zealand’s decision to lift coronavirus restrictions after seemingly squashing the disease was dangerous.

Acting Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said on Friday that New Zealand returned to pre-pandemic life after eradicating the virus.

“That is just very dangerous,” he told the Senate’s coronavirus inquiry.

“To go right back to a pre-COVID state makes them extremely vulnerable.”

Professor Kelly said New Zealand’s fresh outbreak, which has spread to 30 people, showed why well-performing Australian states must remain vigilant.

“What has happened in New Zealand is a real demonstration of why we have to remain cautious,” he said.

Auckland has returned to lockdown and social distancing measures have been reimposed across other parts of the country.

Prof Kelly said New Zealand’s initial hard lockdown had large economic impacts but was successful.

He believes the government should have continued to limit mass gatherings and continue other physical distancing measures.

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