New Zealand abandons 'Covid zero' goal as lockdown extended
New Zealand's largest city remains under lockdown.
New Zealand, which has been regularly praised for its hardline approach towards containing and suppressing the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, has all but dropped its 'Covid zero' goal following a fresh outbreak.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has officially extended the country's Level 3 lockdown due to Auckland, New Zealand's largest city, continuing to register new cases.
An initial seven-week lockdown had been implemented in August.
Ardern announced the extension at a press conference on Monday (4 October), in which she accepted that the 'Covid zero' strategy had failed to fully curb the spread of the virus.
"Even with the long-term restrictions we've had, we patently haven't reached zero," said Ardern, who pointed to the Delta variant as a "game-changer" that has thus far proved impossible to eradicate.
Ardern was keen to suggest that the 'Covid zero' approach may still play a part, but will proceed with the gradual easing of restrictions in Auckland for now.
“Elimination was important because we didn’t have vaccines," she said.
"Now we do, so we can begin to change the way we do things."
Under current restrictions, Auckland residents can meet outdoors in groups of up to 10 from Wednesday, with the reopening of schools and shops set to be considered in the weeks to come.
🇳🇿 “This phased approach is in 3 parts.”
PM Jacinda Ardern extended a Level 3 lockdown in Auckland as New Zealand’s largest city continues to record new community #Covid19 cases, but presented a road-map for easing restrictions #Covid19NZ https://t.co/lAji9W6uma pic.twitter.com/FLFuaAd6l2
— Bloomberg Quicktake (@Quicktake) October 4, 2021