New Zealand not willing to try UK policy of ‘living with Covid’

·2-min read
Jacinda Ardern (Getty Images)
Jacinda Ardern (Getty Images)

New Zealand has said it is “not willing to accept” the UK’s policy of “living with Covid”, branding the level of deaths likely after the drop of restrictions as “unacceptable”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the UK must “learn to live with” the virus, with Covid cases likely to reach 50,000 a day within a fortnight.

He added: “We must reconcile ourselves, sadly, to more deaths from Covid.”

However, when asked if it was a policy the New Zealand government could adopt, the country’s Covid response minister was quick to dismiss the suggestion.

Chris Hipkins, speaking at a press conference alongside prime minister Jacinda Ardern, said: “That’s not something that we have been willing to accept in New Zealand.

“One of the things the UK government have been very clear about [is] that there will be a spike in cases, potentially thousands of cases a day. There will be more people dying.

“We are likely to see more incremental change than dramatic change where we wake up one morning and say: ‘We just go back to the way things were before Covid-19.’”

Ardern added: “Different countries are taking different choices.

“The priority for me is how do we continue to preserve what New Zealand has managed to gain and give ourselves options, because this virus is not done with the world yet.”

Director-general of health, Ashley Bloomfield, said New Zealand would be “watching closely” and could even put the UK on a no-fly list if case numbers exploded.

“If they do get an increase in cases, we will be keeping a close eye on what that means for the risk of people traveling from the UK and that will inform our decisions here,” he said.

“We actually review the risk status of all countries each week, so clearly if there is an increase in the number of cases that’s one of the things we’ll be watching very closely.”

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