WHEN we thought that they had beaten the Covid-19 virus, New Zealanders woke one morning to learn that the more contagious delta variant had come to threaten the normalcy in life for some time now. One reported community case of a 58-year-old man who became symptomatic on Aug. 14 was enough to trigger the New Zealand Government in raising Alert Level 4, thereby putting the entire country into full lockdown effective Aug. 17 at 11:59 p.m.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, “Going hard and early has worked for us before,” referring to last year’s successful strategy that contained the Covid-19 virus, resulting in the eventual lowering to Level 1, that brought normalcy to New Zealand, except for the border restrictions. Acknowledging that delta is more dangerous, she said, “The same actions that overcame the virus last year can be applied to beat it again.” Auckland and the Coromandel Peninsula, the places that the infected person recently visited, were placed in a seven-day lockdown (until Aug. 24), while the rest of the country for three days.
The operation to contain the virus is in full swing with the source pointing to a recent returnee from Sydney who arrived on a managed red zone flight on Aug. 7, who was tested and whose result came out positive on Aug. 9. On Aug. 20, it was reported that Covid cases have ballooned to 31 community cases and threatened two of the country’s biggest hospitals, with three cases found in the capital, Wellington. As a result, Alert Level 4 has been extended in the entire country until Aug. 24. The efficient contract tracing system of the country has helped public health workers in identifying 120 locations of interest.
While there is no certainty when the virus will be contained, the transparency of the government gives the citizenry assurance that things are moving speedily. On the other hand, the general population has kept their end of the deal by staying at home; and those with symptoms reporting their condition. Like in the past, only two individuals address the nation on a regular basis on developments on the virus and what the government is doing or directing the citizenry.
New Zealand Health Chief Executive Ashley Bloomfield addresses the scientific aspect, while Ardern deals with government response. The Opposition has supported the initiatives of the Cabinet, while local officials concentrate on the enforcement of government directives and delivery of essential services.
In 2020, New Zealand was able to beat the Covid-19 virus. In 2021, New Zealand is raising the bar to stop the delta variant. God defend New Zealand.