New Zealand Abandons Virus Elimination Strategy

  • VOA News

    October 07, 2021 08:13

    New Zealand is abandoning its COVID-19 elimination strategy. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Monday, "This is a change in approach we were always going to make over time. Our delta outbreak has accelerated this transition. Vaccines will support it."

    The arrival of the highly contagious delta variant made it difficult for the country to repeat its accomplishment last year of reducing the number of COVID-19 cases to zero. Authorities reported 29 new cases Monday.

    The majority of New Zealand's COVID-19 cases were in Auckland which has endured a 50-day lockdown. "It's clear that a long period of heavy restrictions has not got us to zero cases. But it's okay... elimination was important because we didn't have vaccinations," Ardern said during a news conference. "Now we do. So, we can begin to change the way we do things."

    The Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center has recorded 4,383 COVID-19 infections in New Zealand and 27 deaths early Monday. There have been 235 million global COVID-19 cases and nearly 5 million deaths, the center reported Monday.

    The normally bustling High Street in Auckland's CBD is largely deserted during a lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19 in Auckland, New Zealand on Aug. 26, 2021. /Reuters

    The New York City Department of Education mandate that everyone who works in the city's schools must be vaccinated against COVID-19 goes into effect Monday. School officials are bracing to see how many substitute teachers and other staff members may need to be hired to replace employees who have not complied. School staff who cannot show proof of vaccination Monday will be placed on unpaid leave.

    "I would urge every mayor in America: Do it now, get those vaccine mandates in place ahead of the cold weather, when things are going to get tougher," Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a television interview. The New York City school district is the largest in the U.S.

    Israel said Sunday that only people who have received two COVID-19 vaccinations and a booster shot or who have recently recovered from COVID-19 will be considered fully vaccinated on their digital vaccine passports. Officials hope the new measure will prompt Israelis to get their booster shots. Without a third dose recorded on their vaccine passport, people will not be allowed into indoor venues.

    Russia reported its highest one-day coronavirus death toll since the pandemic began: 890 deaths on Sunday, its national coronavirus task force said. It was the fifth day in a row that it reported a new daily record for coronavirus deaths. The task force also said the number of new coronavirus infections reported Sunday was the second highest of the year: nearly 25,800.

    Since the pandemic began, Russia has reported nearly 205,000 deaths from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, the most in Europe, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. The country has a population of about 146 million and has recorded nearly 7.5 million coronavirus infections, according to Johns Hopkins. The United Kingdom, with a population of about 67 million, leads Europe with 7.9 million cases since the pandemic began.

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