New Zealand abandons zero-Covid policy

Hannah Peters via Getty Images

New Zealand abandons its “zero-Covid” policy (Photo taken in Auckland during lockdown on November 22, 2021. By Hannah Peters / Getty Images)

COVID – New Zealand will end the three-and-a-half-month lockdown in the country’s largest city, Auckland, in early December by adopting a new strategy to fight the coronavirus, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday.

Jacinda Ardern said that starting at 11:59 p.m. on December 2, New Zealand will adopt a new response to Covid-19 aimed at containing the Delta variant rather than attempting to eliminate it altogether.

“The hard truth is that (the variant) Delta is here and is not going to go away,” she told reporters. As you can see in the graph below, the number of cases is on the rise in New Zealand.

New Zealand “better placed” to tackle Covid

“Although no country has succeeded in eliminating the Delta variant completely, New Zealand is better placed than most to tackle it,” said Jacinda Ardern.

Until now, his government has aimed for a complete elimination of the virus, a so-called “zero-Covid” policy, with strict containment measures, rigorous traceability of contacts and strict border controls.

The disease has killed only 40 people in a population of five million but pressure has increased to end the lockdown imposed on Auckland since the Delta variant was detected there in August.

Jacinda Ardern had initially planned to change policy once the country’s 90% vaccination rate was reached, but eventually brought forward the reopening when the vaccination level is currently around 83%.

New Zealand is not the only country to have had to abandon its “zero Covid” policy after a surge in cases. This was the case in June for Singapore, which decided to change its mind to live with the coronavirus.

A traffic light system

The new system is presented as traffic lights, the green signifying virtually no control of the virus, the orange requiring the wearing of the mask in certain places while the red allows the businesses to remain open to only vaccinated customers and observing a distancing social.

Auckland will initially be placed in red, the prime minister said, adding that authorities are still in the process of classifying the other areas. Auckland is currently isolated from the rest of New Zealand, with roadblocks to be lifted on December 15.

Strict quarantine rules for international arrivals will remain in place, but Jacinda Ardern has pledged to ease them early next year.

Australia reopens these borders to some travelers

For its part, twenty months after closing its borders, Australia announced on Monday that it would welcome back foreign students, skilled workers and working holiday visa holders from next month, easing some of the restrictions. most stringent against Covid in the world.

Thus, Australian citizens, visa holders and citizens of Japan, South Korea and Singapore, will be able to enter the territory from December 1. They will be able to travel to the country with only a negative Covid-19 test before departure if they are vaccinated. However, some Australian states still require a quarantine on entry.

“Australia is reopening to the world,” Home Secretary Karen Andrews said in announcing the news, adding that it was “another step forward” for the country.
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