Zero covid New Zealand broadens lockdown as elimination strategy continues to fail

New Zealand has broadened its lockdown, introducing more restrictions as the Delta variant spreads beyond Auckland.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced 32 new coronavirus cases on Sunday in Auckland, the country’s largest city, which has been in lockdown since mid-August.

There were also two cases in the Waikato region, some 91 miles south of Auckland, prompting Ardern to bring parts of that region into a five-day lockdown. 

She added that the government will decide on Monday whether Auckland’s 1.7 million residents will remain sealed off from the rest of New Zealand.

Ardern enforced what was meant to be a ‘short and sharp’ nationwide lockdown in mid-August in response to the Auckland outbreak, which now stands at 1,328 cases.

But while the rest of the country has largely returned to normal life, the North Island city has remained in lockdown.

‘We are doing everything that we can to keep cases confined to Auckland, and managing them there,’ Ardern said.

While New Zealand was among just a handful of countries to bring Covid-19 cases down to zero last year and largely stayed virus-free until the latest outbreak in August, difficulties in quashing the Delta variant have put Ardern’s elimination strategy in question.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced 32 new coronavirus cases on Sunday in Auckland, the country's largest city, which has been in lockdown since mid-August

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced 32 new coronavirus cases on Sunday in Auckland, the country's largest city, which has been in lockdown since mid-August

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced 32 new coronavirus cases on Sunday in Auckland, the country’s largest city, which has been in lockdown since mid-August

Amid mounting pressure, Ardern has said her strategy was never to have zero cases, but to aggressively stamp out the virus.

She has said strict lockdowns can end if 90 per cent of the eligible population is fully vaccinated, contrasting with the current 46 per cent.

Full vaccination will become a requirement for non-New Zealand citizens arriving in the country from November 1, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said on Sunday.

Air New Zealand said on Sunday that it will require passengers on its international flights to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

‘We have a different approach to Covid within our sights, and in our hands,’ Ardern said on Sunday.

‘So as we all look ahead and think about summer, and the plans we are making, make the first step a vaccine. It is the thing that will make those summer plans possible.’ 

Ardern has said strict lockdowns can end if 90 per cent of the eligible population is fully vaccinated, contrasting with the current 46 per cent. Pictured: MP Ginny Andersen (left) receives a dose of the coronavirus vaccine in Wellington on Friday.

Ardern has said strict lockdowns can end if 90 per cent of the eligible population is fully vaccinated, contrasting with the current 46 per cent. Pictured: MP Ginny Andersen (left) receives a dose of the coronavirus vaccine in Wellington on Friday.

Ardern has said strict lockdowns can end if 90 per cent of the eligible population is fully vaccinated, contrasting with the current 46 per cent. Pictured: MP Ginny Andersen (left) receives a dose of the coronavirus vaccine in Wellington on Friday.

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