New Zealand's Ardern says lockdown can end with high vaccine uptake

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks during the post cabinet press conference on September 20, 2021 in Wellington, New Zealand. Auckland will move to COVID-19 Alert Level 3 restrictions from midnight on September 21, with Level 3 settings to remain in place for at least two weeks   | Photo Credit: Getty Images

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on September 23 the country should aim for a 90% plus rate of inoculation, and could drop strict coronavirus lockdown measures once enough people were vaccinated.

New Zealand eliminated COVID-19 last year and remained largely virus-free until an outbreak of the highly infectious Delta variant in August led to a nationwide lockdown.

With its biggest city Auckland still in lockdown and newcases being reported every day, Ms. Ardern said vaccinations will replace lockdowns as the main tool against the virus, 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," she said.

The highest possible vaccine rates will give the most freedoms, Ms. 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 September 22, 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-19 cases again.

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Printable version | Oct 25, 2021 4:14:56 PM |

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