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New Zealand’s Zero Covid strategy

Issue

On August 17, New Zealand reported its first case of Covid-19 since February. Four hours later, the country’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced a strict, level-four nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of the disease — a move that health experts from around the world have called archaic and misinformed, and has earned the country the less than flattering nickname, ‘hermit nation’.

Details

  • The Prime Minister has ignored the criticism and emphasized the need to adopt elimination strategy to counter the pandemic.
  • The same move was also praised by global health experts during previous bouts of the pandemic when New Zealand recorded low numbers.

The strategy

  • The strategy by the Prime Minister is “go hard, go early” to restrict community transmission by eliminating the disease at early stage.
  • It is also called as ‘zero covid strategy’ as the move is expected to hit at the root of the transmission.

Status across the world

The virus is undergoing mutation rather than completely eliminating. Countries have changed strategy to make provisions to live with the virus.

The zero covid strategy

  • It will undertake strict lockdowns, close borders and shut down travel to reduce the number of Covid-19 cases to manageable levels.
  • Countries including New Zealand adopted ‘influenza pandemic plan’, which will mitigate numbers by strengthening their healthcare capacity.
  • Similar strategy was adopted by Australia which focused on eliminating case till the last one. This involved closing borders and setting up quarantine hotels.
  • Hong Kong has followed a similar one. This has forced European Chamber of Commerce to request for unlocking, which has been refused by administration.

Need for changing strategy

  • Many countries are now adopting lesser restrictions and more freedom for its citizens. Trusting vaccination process, UK has eliminated pandemic restrictions.
  • US has also relaxed wearing of masks in some areas. Foreign travelers can now visit UK if they are fully vaccinated without restrictions.
  • France and Australia have also expressed the need to learn to live with the virus by adopting precautions and restrain.

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