Auckland, New Zealand — For a year and a half, New Zealand pursued a “Covid zero” strategy, closing borders and swiftly blocking coronaviruses. This is a policy that was maintained during the transition of other Asia-Pacific countries. Coexist with viral threats.
On Monday, New Zealand gave up ghosts.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern admitted that the elimination strategy had ended seven weeks after the blockade, and could not stop the outbreak of Delta variants, gradually lifting restrictions in Auckland, the country’s largest city. Announced.
“We are moving from our current strategy to a new way to do things,” Ardan told reporters. “At Delta, it’s very difficult to get back to zero, and limits alone aren’t enough to quickly achieve that. In fact, in this outbreak, long-term, strict limits don’t mean zero cases. it is clear.”
“What we call the long tail feels like an incredibly hard-to-shake tentacle,” she added.
Overall, New Zealand’s approach to the virus has been extremely successful, with one of the lowest cases and mortality rates in the world, allowing people to live without restrictions in most pandemics.
However, the recent blockade has made him feel sick among many in Auckland, and on Saturday thousands of people go out to show that they oppose the country’s largest restrictions on such protests against the pandemic. I broke the ban.
The national vaccination program was also a source of astonishment. The campaign went into full swing last month, with less than half of people over the age of 12 fully vaccinated, and New Zealand lags far behind most developed countries.
Two weeks ago, after a very restrictive stay-at-home order lasted for more than a month, the public announced that some rules would be relaxed in Auckland, even though many of the blockade orders remained. I started to admit my dissatisfaction. place. Approximately 200,000 people were allowed to return to work, and restaurants and cafes were able to reopen for takeaway orders.
At the time, Mr Ardan said the country was still trying to get rid of the virus. But it was a bet for epidemiologists who believed it was still possible to defeat Delta and encouraged New Zealand to stick to its Zero Covid strategy.
Now they say it’s clear that the relaxation of the restrictions has eliminated the opportunity to wipe out the virus again. In New Zealand, dozens of new cases are reported daily, most of which occur in Auckland, even after the recent outbreak began in mid-August.
David Welch, Covid-19 modeler at the University of Auckland’s Center for Computational Evolution, mentioned the transition from Level 4 and said, “In modeling, basically entering Level 3 is a big risk.” increase. level.
“It turns out that removal doesn’t work at level 3,” he said. “It’s not that surprising just because the delta is very contagious. The problem now is that level 3 will do it for a while in less than 20, 30, 40, 50 cases a day. Is it enough to contain? “
According to Dr. Welch, a more forgiving approach can significantly increase the number of cases and cause the outbreak to go out of control.
To prevent the spread of such viruses, epidemiologists said Aucklanders are still likely to face a two-month blockade. It will make them very similar to what Australian cities like Sydney and Melbourne have experienced. There, leaders said they had abandoned the zero-covid approach, but left strict restrictions.
Singapore has also vaccinated many of its populations, using indicators such as hospitalization and mortality instead of caseloading to move to what is called coexistence with the virus, leading to a resumption. Strategic changes by Singapore and other countries in the region have made China perhaps the last major country to pursue the Covid-zero approach.
On Monday, Ardan provided an unblocked three-tiered map to “make everyday life a little easier.”
Starting Tuesday, Auckland residents will be allowed to meet with other household members outdoors for the first time since August. Younger children return to the classroom and have a more tolerant approach to outdoor exercise in the city’s parks, nature reserves and beaches.
New Zealand will have to achieve widespread vaccination to get out of the blockage altogether, Ardan said. According to Ministry of Health data, about 79% of people over the age of 12 take at least one dose and 48% take two doses. Full immunization of the population (New Zealand’s stated goal) can take months, as New Zealand struggles to convince the last 20% to receive the first dose of the vaccine.
The country’s most endangered communities are also the least vaccinated. Over 95% of Asians and 80% of Caucasians take at least one dose, which drops to about 73% for Pacific Islanders and less than 57% for Maori.
Minimizing Auckland outbreaks is complicated by a surge in incidents among vulnerable people, including those living in emergency and temporary housing, said Dr. Michael Baker, an epidemiologist at the University of Otago. Said.
“We should have been aware of the established transmission in the group that was left behind and robbed, which basically underpinned the outbreak,” he said. “Because these are volatile people, their transmission is relatively impervious to alert level systems and restrictions.”
Some of Auckland’s latest cases have been detected accidentally in the ward or after people have been detained by police, suggesting widespread infection among untested people. ..
In a Twitter post, Maori writer and political commentator Morgan Godfery expressed concern about what it means to abandon exclusion strategies for people in the disadvantaged community.
“The prime minister says we must now live with the virus,” he wrote. “But” we “mean these same lines of inequality. The virus will now infiltrate gangsters, transitional housing communities, and unvaccinated brown races. In 2020, Jacinda sought a shared sacrifice. In 2021, it’s a special sacrifice. “