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New Zealand Will Abandon Its Zero-Covid Approach

Premier JacindaArdern announced Monday that New Zealand would begin to transition away from a zero-Covid policy and toward a plan of living with the virus, making it the latest nation to abandon its efforts to eradicate the virus in the face of the extremely infectious Delta strain.

According to statistics from Johns Hopkins University, New Zealand has recorded just 4,409 Covid-19 cases and 27 fatalities since closing its borders early in the epidemic, making it the nation with the lowest case counts of any country in the world.

New Zealand Will Abandon Its Zero-Covid Approach

However, an epidemic in August, which was triggered by the Delta strain, resulted in the closure of the main metropolis of Auckland for several days.

And despite the fact that the city has been under travel restrictions for more than six weeks, New Zealand confirmed 24 new cases inside the community on Tuesday, with the bulk of them being discovered in Auckland. Ardern said on Monday that the virus has become “a tentacle that’s been very difficult to shake.”

New Zealand Will Abandon Its Zero-Covid Approach

“To date, we’ve been able to maintain a high level of control over the epidemic, but as you can see with this outbreak also with Delta, getting back to zero is extremely difficult,” she said, trying to add that long periods of strict restrictions had been ineffective in bringing the infection rate down sufficiently. Ardern said that although the decision to live with the virus always was going to be a difficult one for New Zealand, the Delta version has “expedited” the process. 

In accordance with New Zealand’s Health Ministry, at least 49 percent of the nation has been completely vaccinated, with 79 percent having received their first dosage of the vaccine. According to Ardern, who spoke at a press conference on Tuesday, New Zealanders would be required to provide proof of vaccination in order to attend public events like music festivals as well as other big gatherings starting as early as tomorrow.

“If you have a summer event scheduled, this is a heads-up or a caution to go and get immunized,” she advised festival-goers. New Zealand has joined a growing number of other nations in the Asia-Pacific area who have lately declared intentions to coexist with the virus, including Australia and Singapore.  Following the achievement of national immunization goals of up to 80 percent, Scott Morrison, Australia’s Prime Minister,  said in August that the government would begin to relax restrictions.

And he set a timeline last week that would allow for the reopening of Australia’s borders to vaccinated citizens and legal residents by the end of November at the earliest. It is not anticipated that international immigration for non-citizens would resume until the following year. The Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Arden, told reporters on Monday that she had no regrets about implementing the country’s zero-covid policy during the previous 18 months since it had saved lives.

In New Zealand, the news comes only a few days before the anticipated easing of stringent Covid regulations in Sydney, Australia’s biggest city and the capital of the state of NSW, which is scheduled to take effect on July 1.

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