Britain after lifting restrictions .. more cases and fewer deaths than the height of the epidemic

New Zealand’s entry into a new lockdown after two cases of the delta mutant were discovered last week has sparked a lot of controversy over the feasibility of the country’s “zero cases of Covid-19 disease” policy, according to the network.CNNnews”.

Many countries have praised New Zealand for its effective management of the epidemic crisis so far, with only 26 deaths recorded in a population of five million people, while the vaccination campaign is still slow in New Zealand with only about 20% of the population fully vaccinated.

National Party spokesman Chris Bishop said the new wave of the epidemic points to gaps in the government’s work in the vaccination campaign, especially due to supply difficulties.

And the Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, had ordered the closure of the country after discovering two cases of the delta mutant and with broad support from the political circles in the country, but after ten days of closure, the disease spread among 347 people as of Friday, including one in intensive care.

Questions about “zero covid”

This spread of the delta mutant has raised questions about whether the attempt to eradicate transmission in the community – known as the “zero COVID-19” strategy, still makes sense in a world where the strain has become so widespread.

In this regard, the minister in charge of the “Covid-19” file, Chris Hepkins, told TVNZ, “Delta does not resemble any mutation that we have seen since the beginning of the epidemic.”

“This changes everything, and it means that all of our current measures seem less appropriate, which raises questions about the long-term future of our strategy.”

Hepkins confirmed that containing this focus was much more difficult than containing the previous ones, because the delta mutant is more contagious.

Between the price.. and the result

So far, New Zealand has recorded just over 3,000 cases and 26 deaths, but the relatively low death toll has come at a big price to some New Zealanders, with an estimated 1 million citizens living abroad, plus 600,000 in neighboring Australia, which means Many New Zealanders have at least one friend or relative who is abroad and have not seen many of their loved ones in over a year.

In March of the year 2020, New Zealand closed its borders to almost all foreigners, and later asked the vast majority of returnees to spend two weeks in an isolation facility at their own expense, and statistics estimate that just over 167,000 people have been subject to that quarantine since that time. .

Closed borders have also contributed to tourism paralysis, as the number of outbound visitors fell by more than 98% in January 2021 compared to the previous year.

However, New Zealand does not appear to be in a hurry to reconnect with the world. A recent poll by public polling company Stickybeak showed that 84% of people surveyed supported the decision to close last week.

And a separate Stickybeak poll showed that only one in four wanted to reopen the travel bubble with Australia, which had been allowing arrivals from the neighboring country not to be quarantined.

Charlotte Guigou, 28, a teacher at a school in the capital, Wellington, said the closure was upsetting and resulted in her not being able to see her family in France, but she still believed the “zero Covid” policy was the right approach.

She added: “This closure was really difficult, but before that we were living life normally, everything was good, the atmosphere was really great, but the pain of not opening the borders, is worth bearing because what we get in return is the lifestyle we want.”

As for Anna Robinson, 32, who spent much of the epidemic period in Europe before returning to New Zealand in April, she believes that the strict rules to close borders have come at the cost of missing important moments for loved ones, such as attending births and weddings. and funerals, but she believes the strict rules of closure were “a very small price to pay for the amount of freedom and security for the community to come next”.

‘It’s still possible’

In a related context, Sean Hendy, who is responsible for Corona Virus Research at the University of Auckland, said that the country’s rapid response will likely allow a return to zero cases of Covid-19 disease, continuing: “I don’t think it is inevitable that we will have an outbreak in a delta mutant outside out of control.”

He continued: “Once New Zealand has high vaccination rates – perhaps between 70% and 80% – Covid can be treated like measles, we don’t prevent measles. But we also don’t tolerate it if it spreads and we do a public health response to eliminate it.”

In the same vein, epidemiologist Michael Baker, who advises the government on its Covid strategy, told National Radio New Zealand this week that eliminating the disease was the “optimal strategy so far through every indicator we can use,” adding: “Elimination of the epidemic is possible.” Technically, I’m sure it will happen again in New Zealand.”

Earlier this month, the COVID-19 Strategic Public Health Advisory Group said the strategy to combat the disease could continue, even after New Zealand reopened its borders.

The Ministry of Health indicated on its website that it will use a combination of border rules, vaccinations and public health measures to keep people safe from the epidemic and that the country will still try to eradicate the virus, but this may mean that it is relying less on lockdowns.

“Our pandemic strategy has proven its value and remains an achievable goal even when current border restrictions are relaxed,” she added, referring to New Zealand that may not plan to coexist with the coronavirus in the same way as other countries.

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