| 26 May 2024, Sunday |

New Zealand’s Ardern says lockdowns can end with high vaccine uptake

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Thursday that the country should strive for a vaccination rate of 90 percent or higher, and that after enough people have been vaccinated, tight coronavirus lockdown restrictions may be lifted.

COVID-19 was eradicated from New Zealand last year, and the country was mostly virus-free until an outbreak of the extremely contagious Delta version in August, which prompted a countrywide lockdown.

With the country’s largest city, Auckland, remains under lockdown and new cases reported every day, Ardern said vaccines will take the place of lockdowns as the primary tactic in the fight against the virus, allowing authorities to confine only those who are sick.

“If that rate (of vaccinations) is high enough then we will be able to move away from lockdowns as a tool,” she said.

The highest possible vaccine rates will give the most freedoms, Ardern said, adding that the country should be aiming for a 90% plus rate of vaccination.

After a sluggish start to its vaccination campaign, some 40% of adult New Zealanders are fully vaccinated and about 75% have had at least one dose.

Authorities reported 15 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, all in Auckland, taking the total number of cases in the current outbreak to 1,123.

The Director General of Health, Ashley Bloomfield warned earlier this week that New Zealand may not get to zero COVID cases again.

  • Reuters