Delta forces New Zealand to give up ‘Covid zero’ ambition
For a year and a half, New Zealand has pursued a strategy of “Covid zero”, closing its borders and quickly enforcing lockdowns to keep the coronavirus in check, a policy it maintained even as other Asia-Pacific countries transitioned to coexisting with the viral threat.
On Monday, New Zealand gave up the ghost.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern acknowledged an end to the elimination strategy seven weeks into a lockdown that has failed to halt an outbreak of the Delta variant, announcing that restrictions would be gradually lifted in Auckland, the country’s largest city.
“We’re transitioning from our current strategy into a new way of doing things,” Ardern told reporters.
“With Delta, the return to zero is incredibly difficult, and our restrictions alone are not enough to achieve that quickly. In fact, for this outbreak, it’s clear that long periods of heavy restrictions has not got us to zero cases.”
“What we have called a long tail,” she added, “feels more like a tentacle that has been incredibly hard to shake.”
New York Times News Service