New Zealand in early lockdown to avoid spike in numbers infected

Published:  26 Mar at 6 PM
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New Zealand is now shut down for everything except essential services for at least four weeks.

According to the country’s Prime Minister, the trajectory of victims of the virus made a shutdown the only sensible course of action. At the time of her announcement, she said, the number of cases had reached 102 and was set to rise still more unless harsh measures were taken. Her action, she believes, is crucial in the war against the virus, and will be loosened region by region should infection numbers subside.

A four-week closure is now law, but may be extended should it not have the desired effect. Both citizens and expats living and working in New Zealand are subject to the requirements, including the usual two-metre distance between people whether they’re shopping for essentials or exercising. One of the PM’s major concerns is a chain of infections affecting several generations in a single family, even if they’ve been following the rules as best they can.

Another major issue is the wave of expats both Kiwi and from many other countries who’re returning home from overseas, possibly bringing the virus with them. Returnees must self-quarantine even if they’re not ill and haven’t knowingly been in contact with infected people. During the initial four-week lockdown, testing will be ramped up as will contact tracing and the existing systems for quarantine.

Although the lockdown may be considered by some to be too soon given the number of infections to date, this action may well slow as yet undiscovered chains of infection at the same time as containment measures are being put in place, allowing avoidance of the more prolonged lockdown adopted by many other affected countries. Expat lives are certain to be affected but, should the strategy be successful, a return to the norm will follow.
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