New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern has announced that the Delta variant is close to being wiped out in the country, with nationwide curbs set to be lifted as a result.
Last month the PM was subjected to denunciation after her government put the entire nation into a strict lockdown after finding a single case of coronavirus infection in the community.
Invoking some of the stirring rhetoric she used early in the pandemic she urged the “team of five million” – New Zealand’s population – to go hard and early in trying to eliminate the latest outbreak.
“We have seen what happens elsewhere if we fail to get on top of it,” Ardern said. “We only get one chance.”
“We only get one chance”
There have been a total of 821 cases found in the outbreak, with 20 found in Aukland on Monday.
But having stemmed the spread, restrictions outside of Auckland will be eased from Wednesday, as they continue to pursue an elimination strategy for the disease.
“We are within sight of elimination, but we can’t drop the ball,” Ardern said at a televised news conference. “Day by day we are making very good progress.
“What I don’t want to do is move too quickly and then see a resurgence.”
About 1.7 million people in greater Auckland, the epicentre of the outbreak, will remain in a full level 4 lockdown until at least September 14th.
The easing of the alert status to level 2 from level 3 in the rest of the country will allow the reopening of schools, offices and businesses. Regional travel will also be allowed.
Face masks will still be required inside most public venues, including shops and malls. Indoor hospitality venues will be limited to 50 patrons and outdoor venues to 100 people.
So far New Zealand has recorded 3,400 Covid-19 cases since the start of the pandemic. It has reported 27 deaths.