While Covid-19 case numbers are still rising in New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the lockdown is having an obvious impact in the fight against the Delta variant outbreak.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Director of Public Health Caroline McElnay provided the latest update on the government’s Covid-19 response on Thursday.
Watch the Covid-19 update here:
The number of community cases rose by 68, but Ardern said the first sign the lockdown was having an effect was that fact that health authorities had not seen spread beyond Auckland and Wellington, where there was a known link to the Auckland outbreak.
“If it wasn’t for lockdown, I’m sure we would have seen cases spread further,” Ardern said.
The second factor could be seen in the locations of interest, which were not growing at the same rate the case numbers were.
“That’s because people are staying at home.”.
There have been an additional 20 new locations of interest since the last Covid-19 update, although just three were added today. Ardern said across the locations of interest reported on the ministry’s website, 13 currently had generated additional cases.
Ardern warned the country still needed to be incredibly vigilant, especially with the Delta variant.
With Delta, today’s numbers were not necessarily unexpected, she said.
“With Delta, people are infectious much sooner and they appear to give it to a lot more people.”
Nothing was unexpected at the moment but “New Zealand does need to be incredibly vigilant”.
“Delta has changed the rules of the game, that’s why we’ve changed our game plan.”
We should be able to see the impact of Delta being in our community for a week or more for a time to come, Ardern said.
The elimination strategy recommended by experts was the best strategy to have at the moment and vaccinations “provide everyone with their own individual armour”, she said.
The government’s plan was not to use lockdowns forever.
To avoid lockdowns, get vaccinated, Ardern said.
After RNZ yesterday revealed a mix-up at a vaccination centre may have meant five of the 732 vaccinations performed on 12 July could have been saline solution, Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield this morning repeated it had always been the ministry’s intention to contact those affected.
He said in the afternoon briefing yesterday those people would now be contacted within 24 hours, but admitted the decision to contact people was not made until after RNZ started making enquiries about it.
Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins called the delay “regrettable”.