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Rabu, 01 September 2021

‘Elimination is the best strategy for us’: Ardern defends NZ’s Delta approach - Sydney Morning Herald

By Chris Zappone
Updated

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has defended New Zealand’s approach to combating coronavirus against criticism from Australia that trying to eliminate the fast-spreading Delta variant was “absurd”.

Asked during a daily update on coronavirus, what she thought of criticism from Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg that the Delta variant can’t be “eliminated”, Ardern insisted elimination was the most sensible strategy until New Zealand is fully vaccinated.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern: elimination works for us now.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern: elimination works for us now.Credit:Getty

“Delta is different; no one is denying that,” Ardern said, referring to the strain of coronavirus that has caused outbreaks both in Australia and New Zealand.

But she said New Zealand will not change its approach until its population is vaccinated.

“Elimination is the best strategy for us while we’re vaccinating people and then we’ll continue to look at all of the evidence going forward,” she said.

“We’ve said that for some time. But for now, it’s the best strategy for us.”

Ardern said she was aware of different leaders in Australia taking different positions from us, “but keeping those cases down while you’re vaccinating has to be the goal, and that’s certainly ours”.

Last month, Ardern unveiled a plan for reopening New Zealand to international travel in 2022, only for an outbreak of Delta, five days later, to trigger a snap national lockdown.

Australia and New Zealand have kept cases low by global standards but didn’t hurry to vaccinate their populations, leaving both countries exposed to the wave of Delta variant.

Australia has 21,482 active cases and has recorded 1021 deaths, with the largest share of the new outbreak in New South Wales, which has pursued inconsistent lockdown policies since the pandemic began.

The number of new cases in New Zealand grew by 49 on Thursday, marking a decline from the previous day.

“The latest number is encouraging and it does show that our alert-level four measures are working,” said Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield, in a daily briefing.

There were 75 new community COVID-19 cases announced on Wednesday.

Bloomfield warned that the numbers could still “bounce around”.

Of the cases, 720 were in Auckland and 16 in Wellington. All the new cases today were in Auckland.

Ministry of Health data shows there are currently 42 cases in hospital – six in ICU or a high dependency unit. Three cases are ventilated.

The youngest person in ICU is 18, Bloomfield said.

All are stable but any person on a ventilator is clearly unwell, he said.

“This is not a trivial infection...”

Among the new cases, nearly two-thirds – 64 per cent – were in isolation throughout the period they were infected.

Ardern said that overall the number of cases without exposure events and already in isolation had increased.

“This means our contact tracing is making a difference,” she said.

The improvement allows the Northland region to move back into level-three lockdown tonight, a relaxation from level-four where Auckland remains.

Four new cases were identified at the border – including two from personnel returning from New Zealand’s evacuation mission to Afghanistan.

The other two were from Germany via Singapore, and Britain via the United Arab Emirates.

The nation of 5 million people has administered over 3.59 million vaccination shots (either first or second doses) to date. A further 200,000 shots were booked today.

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2021-09-02 02:57:48Z
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