New Zealand, which has so far been a model with its “zero COVID” strategy, is now turning to a massive vaccination campaign to combat the delta variant.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern admitted this week that her country ultimately failed to curb the coronavirus with its zero-sum strategy.
Last August, the highly contagious delta type spread rapidly across the archipelago, putting a strain on the health care system. Especially since only one in five New Zealanders has been fully vaccinated.
The spread required alert levels in different regions of the peninsula. Seven weeks of strict confinement have been imposed in Auckland, the country’s most populous city.
On October 7, New Zealand had 376 active cases of COVID-19, for a total of 4,480 cases since the start of the pandemic.
So far, the country has emerged as a global model as it has not recorded any cases of COVID-19 for six consecutive months, at the beginning of 2021, thanks to its strict border controls.
Her 27 deaths, compared to the 11,405 deaths reported in Quebec, earned the young Labor leader a wave of popularity nicknamed “Jacinda Mania”.
Since then, discontent has replaced enthusiasm among residents and some 2,000 New Zealand protesters protested last weekend against confinement.
Jacinda Ardern called the protest a “real slap in the face” for people who complied with restrictions banning gatherings, AFP reported.
She said Auckland would remain closed, but the government would review the possibility of lifting some measures on a weekly basis.
The 41-year-old prime minister has replaced the “zero COVID” goal with a massive vaccination campaign, to the satisfaction of those who bemoan the government’s inaction on the matter.
As of August, only 20% of New Zealanders were fully immunized, one of the lowest rates among developed countries.
As of October 7, this percentage has reached 70%. Thus, New Zealand is ahead of Germany and the United States, which have a vaccination rate of 68% and 64%, respectively.
“Getting rid of the virus is important because we didn’t have a vaccine, and now we have a vaccine, so we can start changing the way we do things,” Ardern told reporters.
-With Agence France-Presse.
COVID-19 in New Zealand
- The country has a population of 5 million
- 4480 cases of COVID-19 since the beginning of the epidemic
- 376 active cases
- 27 deaths
(Source: New Zealand Ministry of Health)
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