New Zealand Covid Response Minister Concedes Zero-Covid Policy No Longer Viable Following Delta Outbreak

Who could’ve predicted this? New Zealand’s “zero-Covid” policy hasn’t succeeded in suppressing the virus, as an outbreak of the Delta variant continues to spread across the country. Even Chris Hipkins, the NZ COVID-19 Response Minister, has said the elimination strategy may need to be rethought. The Journal, an Irish newspaper, has more.

Hipkins reported a further 21 cases in a virus cluster that emerged in Auckland last week, ending a six-month run of no local cases and sparking a national lockdown.

Hipkins said Delta’s highly transmissible nature was making this outbreak more difficult to contain than others, raising “big questions” about the elimination strategy.

“The scale of infectiousness and the speed at which the virus has spread is something that, despite all the best preparations in the world, has put our system under strain,” he told TVNZ.

New Zealand’s widely praised COVID-19 response – which has resulted in just 26 deaths in a population of five million – centres on eliminating the virus from the community.

It has relied on strict border controls backed by hard lockdowns when any cases do slip through, but Hipkins said Delta may force a rethink.

“(Delta’s) like nothing we’ve dealt with before in this pandemic,” he said. “It does change everything, it means that all of our existing preparations begin to look less adequate and raises some pretty big questions about the future of our long-term plans.”

Neighbouring Australia has also pursued a “Covid zero” strategy and been similarly frustrated as its Delta cases continue to spike.

Worth reading in full.

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