New Zealand on Tuesday recorded a record number of coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic, the Delta variant forcing the archipelago to abandon its “zero Covid” strategy. Health authorities have announced 94 new cases, a figure that exceeds the previous record of 89 contaminations recorded in April 2020, during the first wave of Covid-19. The number of contaminations has not stopped increasing since the appearance in mid-August of the highly contagious Delta variant in the country.
The epidemic focus, which is located in Auckland, has forced Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to abandon her “zero Covid” strategy in favor of an intensification of the vaccination campaign. The center-left leader is due to unveil a plan on Friday to ease restrictions once vaccination targets are reached. About two thirds of the population of vaccine age have been vaccinated. “We know that vaccination is already making a big difference epidemic in Auckland, but so are the people who follow the measures,” Jacinda Ardern told reporters.
Until the arrival of the Delta variant, the archipelago was protected from the pandemic, in particular due to strict border measures and an intense tracing policy, which in particular allowed New Zealanders to benefit from a almost normal life. This policy has borne fruit, the country having recorded, since the start of the pandemic, only 28 deaths out of a population of five million inhabitants. Jacinda Ardern acknowledged that the Delta variant has “been a game-changer” because the speed with which it spreads does not allow contact cases to be followed, it is impossible to eliminate it.