New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern hasn’t minced words about who she blames for her country’s latest COVID-19 Delta outbreak which escalated to ten cases yesterday, telling reporters that the consequences of NSW’s “light and long” lockdown should serve as a warning for everyone else.
“Our ability to narrow down that this is a case that is linked to New South Wales outbreak, gives us a lot of leads to chase down as quickly as we can,” she said.
Earlier, Ardern said genome sequencing proved that three of the cases were linked to the current outbreak in Sydney, although could not explain how the virus breached New Zealand’s border quarantine regulations.
“What is your message to people who questioned the need for an alert level four lockdown?” A reporter queried.
“Australia,” Ardern responded bluntly. “We’ve seen the dire consequences of taking too long to act in other countries, not least our neighbours.”
“We have seen what can happen elsewhere if we fail to get on top of it. We only get one chance,” she said.
While some have condemned Ardern’s swift decision to lockdown the country, the leader held strong to her position that New Zealand’s road out of restrictions would rely on people’s cooperation of temporary strict measures. “Stay local, do not congregate, don’t talk to your neighbours, please, keep to your bubble,” she told a press conference yesterday.
“I know that, given Delta has not been in our community before, that that will be news that people will find deeply concerning,” Ardern later told Radio New Zealand. “But I want to reassure people — the best place we can be right now is level 4, and that these measures have worked before and will work again.”
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian defended her own approach to lockdown yesterday, blaming surging case numbers on “too many people” breaking the rules.
“We have the right settings in place. But unfortunately too many people continue to do the wrong thing,” she said.
“We know the settings we have in place are some of the harshest that Australia has ever seen.
“Unfortunately it only takes a small number of people to do the wrong thing, to cause this amount of spread.
Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant declined to answer whether she had advised the NSW government to enforce stricter lockdown measures which had ultimately been ignored by Berejiklian and Health Minister, Brad Hazzard.
New Zealand, like Australia, has faced fierce criticism for its slow rollout of vaccinations with currently only around 29 percent of the country having received a single jab.