'Covid-19 lockdown in New Zealand can be lifted if…,' says PM Jacinda Ardern
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Thursday that the lockdown imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), can be dropped if the rate of vaccination is more than 90%, news agency Reuters reported.
New Zealand is one of the least-affected countries from the Covid-19 pandemic across the world. It has so far recorded 4,135 cases, 27 deaths, 3,819 recoveries and 289 active cases. On Wednesday, authorities reported 15 new cases, all found in Auckland.
In 2020, the government had managed to eliminate Covid-19 and the country remained largely virus-free until the Delta variant struck last month, leading to the imposition of a nationwide lockdown.
According to a report by the New York Times on Monday, under the government's four-tier system of Covid-19 rules, Auckland will now be placed under level 3 lockdown.
Under level 3, some businesses, including restaurants and retail outlets are allowed to reopen by using contactless collection methods. People are advised to stay at home and work from home under this level. However, they are allowed to visit supermarkets and some food retailers, banks, pharmacies, petrol stations.
The rest of New Zealand has been under a level 2 lockdown for the past two weeks, the New York Times report added.
Prime Minister Arden said on Thursday that vaccinations will replace lockdowns as the main tool against Covid-19, allowing authorities to isolate only those who are infected.
"If that rate (of vaccinations) is high enough then we will be able to move away from lockdowns as a tool," Arden said, adding, the highest possible vaccine rates will give more freedom.
New Zealand has seen a sluggish start to its vaccination campaign against Covid-19.
At present only 40% of the adult population is fully vaccinated and of this, 75% have received at least one dose. There are over 1.2 million people aged 12 and above who have not even received the first vaccine dose, a report by stuff.co.nz said.