Covid-19 cases in New Zealand have fallen, a hopeful sign as Auckland steps into the government-planned final week of Level 4 lockdown.
The country announced 15 new cases on Tuesday, halving the number of cases from monday 33.
At this stage of the outbreak, the government is paying special attention to how many of these cases are clearly related to existing infections, as unlinked cases could suggest that the virus is spreading uncontrollably across the community. All of the cases on Tuesday were household contacts of existing cases, said Health Director Dr. Ashley Bloomfield, and the total number of unrelated cases during the outbreak, has dropped to 10 from 17 on Monday.
The Auckland region is now in its fourth week of a level four lockdown, the toughest level of restrictions. The rest of the country exited lockdown last weekalthough there are still some restrictions on gathering size and use of masks. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Monday the government had made a “fundamental” decision that Auckland would move from alert level four to three next week.
Ardern also announced that from Northland, the country will be rolling out “Mr Whippy-style” mobile vaccination clinics on buses in an attempt to reach communities where vaccines are less accessible.
“In Australia they started doing something similar and called the mobile outreach clinics Jabba the bus,” said Ardern. “I’m sure we can do better.”
“We have some front runners: the double jab ute and the jabbin ‘car.”
In the meantime, officials are pushing up vaccination rates. A total of 66.5% of the eligible population [those aged 12 years and over] received at least one dose of the vaccine and 34% received both doses. The country currently vaccinates about 55,000 people per day, up from a peak of about 90,000 doses per day in late August.
Ardern urged the New Zealanders to get vaccinated. “Just as we have led the world with the success of our elimination strategy, I want New Zealand to lead the world in the future, both in terms of freedoms and our health and wellbeing,” said Ardern. “With high vaccination rates, we can achieve just that.”