New Zealand sets 90 percent vaccine target to end lockdowns

Reuters

Posted at Oct 22 2021 06:45 AM

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern addresses via pre-recorded video the UN General Assembly 76th session General Debate in UN General Assembly Hall at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City, New York, U.S., September 24, 2021. Peter Foley/Pool via Reuters
New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern addresses via pre-recorded video the UN General Assembly 76th session General Debate in UN General Assembly Hall at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City, New York, U.S., September 24, 2021. Peter Foley/Pool via Reuters

WELLINGTON - New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Friday that the country will end its strict coronavirus lockdown measures and move to a system to live with the virus only when 90% of the country is fully vaccinated.

All District Health Boards in the country will need to achieve 90% vaccine rates, Ardern said, which would make the South Pacific nation one of the most vaccinated country in the world. "Ultimately we have balanced the desire to re-open quickly while continuing to keep people safe," Ardern said at a news conference.

Some 68% of New Zealanders are fully vaccinated so far, while 86% have received at least one dose. On reaching the 90% fully vaccinated target the country will move to a new COVID-19 Protection Framework that provides a pathway out of lockdown and will enable businesses and events to re-open to vaccinated New Zealanders, Ardern said.

"Fully vaccinated people will be able to reconnect with family and friends, go to bars and restaurants and do the things they love with greater certainty and confidence," Ardern said.

Auckland will be able to open up sooner, Ardern said, adding the city can move out of lockdown as soon as 90% fully vaccinated is reached in each of the city's three District Health Boards.

Once the poster child for stamping out COVID-19, New Zealand is struggling to control an outbreak of the highly infectious Delta variant of COVID-19 despite its largest city Auckland being in a tough lockdown for more than two months.

Ardern has now switched from her tough elimination strategy to a model of learning to live with the virus.

New Zealand reported 102 COVID-19 cases on Thursday, a daily record for the second time in three days. (Reporting by Praveen Menon; Editing by Sandra Maler)

Watch more on iWantTFC