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National COVID-19 lockdown in New Zealand to lapse today


National COVID-19 lockdown in New Zealand to lapse today

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Photo: AP

New Zealand’s extended national COVID-19 lockdown was set to expire today but has been further extended.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern initially extended the three-day national lockdown to seven days after the country’s first cases since February spread beyond Auckland to the capital, Wellington.

New Zealand’s strict and cautious response throughout the pandemic kept overall case numbers low, allowing for no curbs on daily life and travel corridors with Australia. However, with only 19% of the population fully vaccinated, New Zealand’s vaccination rate remains the lowest amongst the world’s most developed economies and undermines its otherwise effective pandemic response. Likewise, some of Ardern’s aggressive tactics, including closing New Zealand’s international borders, drew heavy criticism in a country reliant on tourism and immigrant labor.

Expect New Zealand to continue to push vaccinations to halt the further extension of the current lockdown. Vaccination rates are also picking up. However, because of prior lag, it is unlikely that New Zealand will be able to fully vaccinate their population soon. Nevertheless, this experience shows that high vaccination rates are now critical for making a return to normalcy, meaning New Zealand and neighboring Australia face an uphill climb as their populations grow weary of containment measures.

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