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Trying to eliminate Covid is a major folly – but it can be contained


ONE of the advantages we now have in our response to the coronavirus pandemic is being able to see what has worked around the world.

After 102 days with no community transmission of Covid-19, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern this morning announced four members of a family had tested positive, plunging the country’s biggest city Auckland into lockdown.

That is further proof that a so-called elimination strategy of this dreadful virus is a major folly.

Nicola Sturgeon has been flirting with such an approach in recent weeks, which would cause further economic devastation and social division for Scotland.

If any leader was talking about locking down the entire country to eliminate the flu or measles they would rightly be considered insane.

Covid-19 is a nasty illness, but it’s nowhere near as deadly as first thought.

Containment rather than elimination is the most sensible method, balancing the need for corona caution without causing the rest of our lives and livelihoods to collapse.

The more liberal Swedish strategy, which focussed on avoiding a total lockdown while encouraging caution and shielding of the most vulnerable, may well still turn out to be the most effective.

According to some experts, that country is now getting close to herd immunity.

The issue with a country like my homeland of New Zealand focussed on elimination is there is now virtually no immunity at all – and, as we know, coronavirus doesn’t respect traditional borders.

History shows us that it is possible to live with viruses while using medical advances and natural immunity to protect as many of us as possible as we continue to live full lives.

While I wish Jacinda Ardern’s government the best, my fear is that the New Zealand approach will see my wonderful birthplace cut off from the rest of the world for months and years to come to protect itself against an invisible enemy.

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