WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand is among the many few remaining international locations to have averted any outbreaks of the omicron variant — however Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern stated Thursday an outbreak was inevitable and the nation would tighten restrictions as quickly as one was detected.
However she additionally stated that New Zealand wouldn’t impose the lockdowns that it has used beforehand, together with for the delta variant.
“This stage of the pandemic is completely different to what we’ve handled earlier than. Omicron is extra transmissible,” Ardern stated. “That’s going to make it tougher to maintain it out, however it would additionally make it tougher to manage as soon as it arrives. However similar to earlier than, when COVID modifications, we modify.”
Ardern stated that inside 24 to 48 hours of omicron being detected locally, the nation would transfer into its “purple” setting. That may permit companies to stay open and home journey to proceed, however would require schoolchildren to put on masks and restrict crowds to 100 individuals.
At the moment most of New Zealand is on the “orange” setting, which requires some masks carrying and proof of vaccination however does not restrict crowd sizes.
About 93% of New Zealanders aged 12 and over are absolutely vaccinated and 52% have had a booster shot. The nation has simply begun vaccinating youngsters aged between 5 and 11.
New Zealand has managed to include the unfold of the delta variant, with a median of about 20 new circumstances every day. But it surely has seen an rising variety of individuals arriving into the nation and going into obligatory quarantine who’re contaminated with omicron.
That has put pressure on the quarantine system and prompted the federal government to restrict entry for returning residents whereas it decides what to do about reopening its borders, angering many individuals who need to return to New Zealand.
Opposition chief Christopher Luxon stated Ardern had deliberate poorly for omicron and had managed to safe into the nation lower than one speedy COVID-19 take a look at per individual.
“That may be a gorgeous indictment on the federal government’s lazy lack of planning,” he stated.
Ardern stated crucial factor that folks might do was to get a booster shot, which would cut back the severity of an omicron an infection and permit most individuals to get well at residence relatively than needing hospital care.