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New Zealand to “live with the virus”

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Ms. Ardern’s announcement — which came seven weeks into a lockdown that has failed to halt an outbreak of the Delta variant — signaled an end to the “Covid Zero” strategy New Zealand has pursued for a year and a half,  closing its borders and quickly enforcing lockdowns to keep the coronavirus in check.

The nation maintained that goal even as other Asia-Pacific countries transitioned to coexisting with the viral threat. On Monday, Ms. Ardern said the country would switch to “a new way of doing things.”

“With Delta, the return to zero is incredibly difficult, and our restrictions alone are not enough to achieve that quickly,” Ms. Ardern told reporters. “In fact, for this outbreak, it’s clear that long periods of heavy restrictions has not got us to zero cases.”

“What we have called a long tail,” she added, “feels more like a tentacle that has been incredibly hard to shake.”

Overall, New Zealand’s approach to the virus has been a spectacular success, giving it one of the lowest rates of cases and deaths in the world, and allowing its people to live without restrictions during most of the pandemic. But the transmissibility of the Delta variant has challenged the old playbook and made lockdowns effective at containing the virus.

New Zealand is still reporting dozens of new cases a day, almost all of them in Auckland, after the latest outbreak began in mid-August.- (NYT)

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