New Zealand lifts all Covid restrictions, declaring the nation virus-free

spaminator

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New Zealand in coronavirus lockdown as U.K. variant cases reported
Author of the article:Reuters
Reuters
Publishing date:Feb 15, 2021 • 12 hours ago • 2 minute read

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern listens to media questions in Wellington, Sunday, Feb. 14, 2021. PHOTO BY MARK TANTRUM /Getty Images
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WELLINGTON — A coronavirus outbreak that sent New Zealand’s biggest city into a snap lockdown over the weekend involved the more transmissable UK variant, health officials confirmed on Monday, the first time the strain has been detected locally.

Auckland’s nearly 2 million residents were plunged into a new three-day lockdown on Sunday after three new COVID-19 cases were detected in the city.


Genome sequencing of two the cases – all three are immediate family – revealed they were the B1.1.7 variant. The source of the cases remains unknown, authorities said, adding they were scanning international genome databases for a match.

“We were absolutely right to make the decision to be extra cautious because we assumed it was going to be one of the more transmissible variants,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Facebook Live post on Monday.

The Auckland lockdown is the first in New Zealand in six months, after a hard shutdown early in the pandemic appeared to have largely eliminated local transmission. The country was ranked the best performing nation in an index by Australia’s Lowy Institute of almost 100 countries based on containment of the coronavirus.

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The fresh outbreak prompted neighbouring Australia to suspend an arrangement that allowed New Zealanders to enter Australia without serving a 14-day hotel quarantine period.

New Zealand’s health department said on Monday there were no new cases of community transmission, but five in managed isolation facilities.


The country has reported a total of 2,330 confirmed and probable cases since the start of the pandemic, a fraction of those reported by other developed nations, including 25 deaths. Forty-seven cases remained active, health officials said on Monday.

In Auckland, long queues formed outside supermarkets after Sunday’s announcement as people tried to stock up on goods ahead of the implementation of the order that requires them to stay at home except for essential shopping and work.

The COVID-19 alert for the rest of the country was raised up a notch to Level 2, with all gatherings limited to 100 people.

(Reporting by Praveen Menon; Editing by Peter Cooney and Jane Wardell)
 

NZDoug

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Jul 18, 2017
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I hear ya.
I listen to the bleaters and moaners on ZB Radio Talkback , Radio Crybaby, Home of the Big Bleat.
When I can't take it any more, I switch to CFRB, talkback Toronto radio and listen to people with real COVID-19 problems.
Interesting comparison, as Toronto has the same population as NZ.
5 millionish ....
 

Tecumsehsbones

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If you get tired of that, kick on over to the thread on Myanmar and check out the deep thoughts of Canadian MAGAhats who read an article (or a cartoon) and awarded themselves Ph.Ds in the thousand-plus year history, culture, and politics of the Burmese people.
 
  • Wow
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Blackleaf

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Were out of lock down in 7 hours.
11.59 pm Weds.17/02/2021
😺
NZ Standard time.

You'll be back in it again when the next person gets it.

Unless New Zealand admits lockdowns don't work, you'll be going in and out of lockdown every few weeks for centuries to come (because lockdowns don't work).
 

Blackleaf

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New Zealand is not back to normal​

We cannot stay cut off from the world forever.

New Zealand is not back to normal

JOSH VAN VEEN

24th February 2021​

Spiked​


For most New Zealanders, the Covid-19 pandemic ended on 8 June 2020. That was the day prime minister Jacinda Ardern declared New Zealand had ‘eliminated’ the virus. Tragically, 22 people were dead, but 1,482 others had recovered to full health. For the first time since February, there were no more active cases in the community or at the border. The announcement was met with surprise and jubilation. The PM confessed to marking the occasion with a ‘little dance’ at home. While most other countries struggled to contain the virus, New Zealand would return to a state of normality. Or so it seemed.

People were encouraged to get out and see the country. Parties and concerts were back on. Strangers were allowed to mingle again. Social distancing became a nicety rather than a matter of life and death. Although public-health experts continued to warn about the ever-present risk of another outbreak, the government assured us that strict border measures and a state-of-the-art contact-tracing system would keep New Zealand safe. The belief that New Zealand was ‘Covid-free’ persisted for more than 100 days, before a mysterious outbreak in Auckland led to a second lockdown and another death.

Even then, an illusion of control reassured New Zealanders that normality would soon return – and it did, briefly. But wilful ignorance may also have played a role. Last month, the Ministry of Health admitted that undetected community transmission likely continued after June.

Now Auckland has just had another Level 3 lockdown. It was always a fantastical notion that the problems of 2020 would disappear at midnight on 31 December. The reality of life in 2021 is that New Zealanders face further disruption and uncertainty. Travel restrictions will remain. Entire industries have been decimated, and thousands have been put out of work. It is true that government intervention has staved off the worst. But it would not take much to upset this equilibrium. If new cases emerge outside of Auckland, then a second nationwide lockdown is possible.

Until now, public-health officials have worked on the assumption that multiple lines of defence at the border are sufficient to prevent a major community outbreak. Past experience appears to support this. But regardless of whether the latest index case was infected at the border, we should not be surprised if there is now a chain of transmission in the community. Even if we stamp Covid out again, the border is not impenetrable. There will be a next time. The vaccines may significantly reduce the public-health risk, but they have not been fully evaluated on their ability to prevent transmission.

So long as Covid-19 remains endemic in the world, New Zealand has no choice but to live with it. If the objective is to prevent loss of life, then the Ardern government’s elimination strategy has worked. But it has come at the expense of livelihoods, not to mention significant psychological and emotional harm.

Most people here agree the short-term cost was worth it. As the great philosopher, Isaiah Berlin, wrote of politics, ‘We are doomed to choose and every choice may entail irreparable loss’. But for elimination to work long-term, New Zealanders would have to accept a permanent change to their way of life. Social distancing and masks would need to become culturally ingrained, and international travel would become a relic of the past. We might also need to give up some of our privacy for contact tracing.

It is unclear if New Zealanders are willing to live in such a society indefinitely. While many have felt pride in the country’s ‘Covid-free’ status, few have considered the long-term implications of elimination. There has always been a sense that, sooner or later, life will return to ‘normal’.

The past 12 months should have been a lesson in humility for our species. Despite technological wonders and immense knowledge, there is much about the natural world that eludes human control. It is not within the power of any government to make the virus go away.

Josh Van Veen is a former parliamentary researcher for NZ First. This piece originally appeared on the Democracy Project.

 

NZDoug

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Which was a 3 day, level 3 lock down, which means masks on public transport, and no groups, like weddings, funerals, and aporting events limlited too under 100 peeps.
Nobody died, no biggie.
 

Blackleaf

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Which was a 3 day, level 3 lock down, which means masks on public transport, and no groups, like weddings, funerals, and aporting events limlited too under 100 peeps.
Nobody died, no biggie.

But the government is wrong to declare the country covid- free. Unless you have permanent lockdown - wearing masks forever and nobody ever allowed to enter and leave the country - covid will return eventually. You aren't ever going to completely get rid of covid permanently if you return to normal. And, of course, lockdown will have to end eventually. Almost nobody is going to want it permanently. Covid is something we're going to have to live with from now on, like other diseases. Anyone who thinks we can completely eradicate it doesn't understand viruses.