New Zealand records 28th Covid death, only the second since February

The latest death comes just a day after prime minister Jacinda Ardern decided to move away from zero-Covid policy

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar
Wednesday 06 October 2021 10:04
<p>A driver has a COVID-19 test at a driver through clinic in Auckland</p>

A driver has a COVID-19 test at a driver through clinic in Auckland

New Zealand recorded its 28th coronavirus related death since the onset of the pandemic as the Delta variant continues to spread outside Auckland.

Director of public health Caroline McElnay announced on Wednesday morning that an infected person died at Auckland's Middlemore Hospital. The deceased was confirmed to be a man in his 50s, who had spent 40 days in intensive care of the hospital.

This was the Pacific nation's second Covid-19 related death since February. Earlier in September, a woman in her 90s died in Auckland after contracting the virus.

On Wednesday, the country recorded 39 new cases out of which 30 are from Auckland and nine from the Waikato region.

Amid the persistent Delta outbreak, prime minister Jacinda Ardern abandoned the country's long-standing zero-Covid policy.

Ms Arden acknowledged that the country can no longer completely get rid of the virus and instead announced a plan to control the spread of coronavirus.

"With this outbreak and Delta the return to zero is incredibly difficult. This is a change in approach we were always going to make over time. Our Delta outbreak has accelerated this transition. Vaccines will support it," she said at a press conference.

The prime minister said the strict lockdown was affecting 1.7 million people in the biggest city Auckland and it will be scaled back in phases, starting Wednesday.

People in Auckland will be able to allowed to step out of their homes and meet others, with a limit of 10 people in one place. Beaches and parks will be made accessible to the public as well.

Ms Ardern said the Delta variant felt like "a tentacle that has been incredibly hard to shake".

"It's clear that a long period of heavy restrictions has not got us to zero cases. But it is okay. Elimination was important because we didn't have vaccinations. Now we do. So we can begin to change the way we do things," she added.

New Zealand's zero-tolerance approach towards the virus worked remarkably well for the nation of 5 million citizens.

The country declared itself Covid-free and went back to regular life in June 2020 when most of the nations were still under a lockdown.

However, things changed when the Delta variant of the virus, which originated in India, was brought in by a traveller returning from Australia in August.

The government had earlier announced on Sunday that all foreign nationals entering New Zealand will be required to be fully vaccinated from 1 November.

"To further reduce the possibility of the virus getting through our border, we are introducing the requirement for air travellers aged 17 and over, who are not New Zealand citizens, to be fully vaccinated to enter New Zealand," Covid-19 response minister Chris Hipkins said in a statement.

Although the nation itself was affected due to a slow vaccine rollout amid procurement difficulties, the country has picked up the pace in recent weeks.

About 48 per cent or 2 million people of the country's eligible population has been completely vaccinated. New Zealand has recorded 4,451 Covid-19 cases so far.

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