New Zealand Has Extended Virus Lockdown; Australia Eyes Vaccines

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — As it seeks to put a stop to a growing coronavirus epidemic, New Zealand’s government said on Monday that a severe countrywide lockdown will be extended until at least Friday.

The announcement came as health officials reported 35 new local infections of the fast-spreading delta form, the most daily COVID-19 cases in New Zealand since April of last year.

The outbreak, which was first discovered last week, has now grown to 107 cases. However, health officials say they’ve discovered linkages between the majority of the cases, giving them hope that the outbreak can be contained. Over the last six days, authorities say they’ve tested approximately 3% of the country’s population.

The lockdown in Auckland, where the majority of the cases have been discovered, will last until at least the end of the month, according to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

“We do require further information. More clarity is required. “With Delta, we don’t want to take any chances,” Ardern added. “If the world has taught us anything, it is to exercise caution while dealing with this COVID-19 variant.”

Modeling, according to Ardern, indicated that the infection would peak in a few days and then drop.

One of the reasons that lockdowns are regarded as necessary in New Zealand is that inoculation rates are still low, with only around 20% of individuals receiving complete vaccinations. Because of the severe lockdown, most individuals are forced to stay at home, going only to shop for groceries or medicine or to exercise.

Ardern also stated that the government has chosen to halt normal Parliament sessions for a week, a move that has been criticized by opposition politicians.

“At a time when New Zealanders are under the strictest curfew in the world and have lost our liberties as a result of the government’s inability to vaccinate and protect the border, Jacinda Ardern’s decision is unfathomable.” “Judith Collins, the opposition leader, stated.

While New Zealand maintained its policy of attempting to totally eradicate the virus through lockdowns, Australia seems to have acknowledged that lockdowns would not be able to completely eradicate the delta version and would only be able to halt its spread.

Lockdowns, according to Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, are “not a sustainable way to live in this nation.” He claims that once vaccination rates reach 80% of the population aged 16 and up, governments must open their borders.

His comments came after a Sydney epidemic expanded by more than 800 cases, approaching record levels. An epidemic in Melbourne expanded by 71 cases, while another in Canberra grew by 16 cases, according to health officials. Lockdowns remained in place in all three cities.

However, Premier Mark McGowan of Western Australia, where there are no community illnesses, said his government would not reopen at the 80 percent vaccination threshold if it meant reintroducing the virus.

Around 24% of Australians have received all of their vaccines.

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