New Zealand to End ‘Zero Covid-19’ Strategy - WSJ


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Oh, well that's not surprising.

I guess all the zlanders will have to take their apologetic and throw it away. Imagine that.


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WSJ article: New Zealand to End ‘Zero Covid-19’ Strategy

Due to the economic costs of lockdown and the increasing untenability of completely keeping COVID out of the country, New Zealand's government is adopting a new strategy of actively controlling the spread of the virus. The article mentions the Delta variant as a contributing factor.
The change in approach is a response to the fact that our best lockdown efforts don't seem capable of eliminating the current Delta outbreak. Our very early lockdown (after one Delta case) did halt the initial exponential spread, and it did successfully contain Delta to Auckland. But as the graph below shows, rather than a short tail like our 2020 outbreak (left side), locked down Auckland has continued to produce around 20 cases per day. Delta has been finding its way to the unvaccinated, and also finding ways to propagate through essential workers such as those transporting foodstuffs to other parts of the country.


On the one hand, the long-term strategy was never elimination - the plan was to use lockdowns to maintain elimination until vaccinations and treatment options would allow for the country to open back up, so this is more an advancement of schedule forced by Delta than a change in overall strategy. But on the other hand, switching to talk of management rather than elimination does feel like giving up and has been the first unpopular and widely criticized move in our government's handling of Covid.

Ardern outlined a three-step plan for relaxing restrictions in Auckland, but it was all rather vague, with no specified dates and no ties to vaccination targets, and no immediate measures to reduce the economic impact of lockdown. At the moment, the only concrete change is the first step which from tomorrow will allow those under lockdown in Auckland to meet with one other family per day while outdoors and wearing masks. So at this point it's more a change in messaging than anything else - a recognition that the Auckland lockdown probably isn't going to get the whole country back to being Covid-free.
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