By ending Covid elimination, Jacinda Ardern once again fails to turn compassion into policy | Morgan Godfery
Without a dramatic change in New Zealand’s vaccination rates, Covid-19 risks becoming a disease for brown people
And so with that, a confusing 20-minute monologue in the Beehive theatrette, New Zealand’s virus-beating elimination strategy is over. As the Delta variant’s “tentacles”, to borrow the prime minister’s description, creep past the Auckland border, potentially wrapping themselves around parts of the Waikato, the government will no longer aim to cut the monster off at its head with tough alert level four restrictions. Instead public health officials will move to a suppression strategy aiming “to contain and control the virus” while we vaccinate our way out of the pandemic. At its simplest, Jacinda Ardern’s message from the threatrette was vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate.
For 18 months New Zealanders were living life as if there were no pandemic. We were gathering outdoors and indoors in the thousands, mask mandates were literally a foreign concept, and business and public services were operating more or less as normal. We were watching governments that let the virus rip with a good dose of horror and, if we’re honest, a modest dose of smugness. And so yesterday’s announcement – that the virus will remain resident in this country – feels like a form of whiplash. Only two weeks ago the prime minister stood in that familiar theatrette and told the country returning to zero cases was still the goal.
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