Asia Pacific Report newsdesk
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff has appealed to the 1.7 million people in the city to “roll up your sleeves” and get vaccinated immediately to help New Zealand cope better with the covid-19 pandemic.
“It’s a much better scenario than staying at home in our bubbles, locked down at level 4, and at risk of a disease that may put you or your family in hospital,” he said.
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“The first option is one we all crave. To help achieve it, we need to get as many Aucklanders vaccinated as possible, as soon as possible.
“Ninety percent of the eligible population is a good target, which is why I support The New Zealand Herald’s 90% Project. If we can get higher than 90 per cent, that’s even better.
Goff said that yesterday the city had hit the target of 80 percent of Aucklanders having had at least one dose, with more than half of that number becoming fully vaccinated.
“More than 20,000 people a day have been getting immunised, but more than 200,000 still need to book or get their first vaccination,” he said.
“New Zealand did the right thing in putting in place stringent measures to stop the incursion of covid-19 into our community. We did better than almost any other country.
“However, new variants of covid, currently delta, make it really hard to stop community transmission and we can’t continue indefinitely closing down our economy to stop its spread. The human and financial costs are huge. And sooner or later we will have to open up again to the world.”
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said at today’s covid media briefing that tools used in the future to fight covid-19 did not need to be as disruptive as the ones used now — such as lockdowns — as long as the country achieved a high vaccination rate.
Jacinda Ardern and Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield were speaking after the release of new modelling which suggests lockdowns may still be needed if the country achieved an 80 percent vaccination rate.
Ardern said vaccine certificates, better ventilation, some mask use, and the possibility of changing border restrictions so a full 14-day quarantine was not required could be used in the future.
But for now vaccination was the main tool.
“It all comes down to vaccination.”
Lockdowns needed in first phase
She said lockdowns were needed in the first phase of the pandemic because there were no vaccines and everyone had to be isolated.
“With vaccines, we can turn that model on its head,” she said, so positive cases could be isolated as others have the protection of vaccines.
“Children can’t be vaccinated. It will reach them. And we’ve seen it reach them in this outbreak,” she said.
The plan was never zero cases, but “zero tolerance” for covid, she said.
The Health Ministry announced 15 new community cases of covid-19 today, a drop of seven on yesterday.
Ardern said the government’s plan for the future, included aggressively isolating cases, catching cases at the border, and ensuring the health system was not overwhelmed.
“It’s not the Aotearoa way to leave anyone behind,” she said.
“There remains one simple message – Get vaccinated.”
Today was the second day that Auckland was at alert level 3 after five weeks in lockdown.
This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.