New Zealand is reconsidering its strict “zero-tolerance” approach to Corona outbreaks, following the spread of the particularly contagious Delta variant, and a possible failure of the system; This is implied by the words of the minister responsible for the fight against Corona in the country, on the fourth day of the tight closure imposed on it, after it was discovered that the virus had penetrated the many defense mechanisms and began to spread in the population.
From a single case found in Auckland five days ago, authorities are now investigating 72 suspected cases of community infection in Auckland and the capital Wellington. This while the residents were called to stay in their homes, the non-essential businesses were closed and the obligation to wear masks was imposed.
So far, New Zealand has managed to lead a normal internal life, using protective layers that include tight insulation for those coming from abroad and preventing foreigners from entering, along with closures and measures at the beginning of the epidemic that helped eradicate the virus completely from its territory. Detected as positive for the virus last week, the fact that it was contagious for at least four days before it was detected, and that it roamed various cities, led to what appeared to be a local outbreak, with authorities now examining some 9,000 people exposed to the various patients.
“The Delta Mutation is unlike anything we have encountered so far in this epidemic,” said Minister Chris Hippkins, who is in charge of the government’s response to the Corona plague, adding that it “raises serious questions” about New Zealand’s policy, which included severe restrictions but “lives as usual. “Within the country. “The rate of infection and the speed with which the virus is spreading is a phenomenon that, despite the best preparations in the world, is still putting our system under pressure.”
Only 20% of New Zealanders are fully vaccinated
A policy of “crushing the curve” – eradicating every Corona case by extreme means such as lengthy closures and comprehensive inspections, as well as restrictions on movement – has also been adopted by neighboring Australia. But in the experience of recent months, the Delta variant has been able to bring about widespread local outbreaks, involving thousands of new patients a day, and that previously implemented measures are currently ineffective. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardren cited the Australian precedent and said that was the reason why a lightning strike should be declared. “We need to act as tough as possible as quickly as possible,” she said.
Authorities now acknowledge that the measures may not be enough. “The Delta variant changes everything,” Hippkins said at a news conference, “it means all of our existing preparations are starting to look less relevant, raising weighty questions about our long-term plans.”
To date, with the help of existing policies, New Zealand has recorded a minimal mortality rate of 26 people who died from corona out of a population of five million.
Authorities’ efforts may now focus on significantly increasing vaccines in order to protect residents. In New Zealand there is a particularly low vaccination rate, due in part to supply difficulties, from the late start of the vaccination campaign and also from the thought that the current policy is working well. Only 20% of New Zealanders are fully vaccinated. The opposition in the country accused the government of “complacency” that caused a low vaccination rate compared to other developed countries.