The director-general of health on Thursday said that New Zealand may not get back to having zero COVID-19 cases in the community, as the country still is taking important steps to stamp out the infectious Delta variant of the virus.
New Zealand eradicated coronavirus last year and had been largely virus-free, excluding a small number of cases reported in February, until the latest outbreak of the Delta variant took place in the month of August, leading Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to announce a nationwide lockdown.
However, the biggest city Auckland is still under lockdown with a small number of fresh cases that are being reported on a regular basis.
Ashley Bloomfield, the director-general of health told Radio New Zealand said, “We may not get back to zero but the important thing is we are going to keep finding any infections and basically continue to contact trace, test and isolate people so that we stop the virus circulating in the community… that’s the aim.”
Bloomfield said the aim was now to try and get on top of the eruption while also increasing up vaccination rates.
“Get that vaccination rate up over 90%…that’s absolutely our new means whereby we will be able to get back to the freedoms we had,” he said.
In March 2020, Ardern’s tough lockdowns and international border closure helped leash in coronavirus, but the government now faces questions over a delayed vaccine rollout. New Zealand, after an apparent delayed has ramped up vaccination with nearly 40% of the country’s 5.1 million people now fully immunized.
About 23 fresh new cases of coronavirus has been reported in Auckland said the authorities on Wednesday, taking the total number of cases to 1,080.
However, at a daily Covid-19 press conference conducted later in the day, the Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said the government had not given up on achieving zero cases.
“We are not giving up on getting back down to zero. That is absolutely what we are striving for,” Hipkins said.