New Zealand authorities reported the country's second-ever-highest coronavirus daily case rate on Monday since the beginning of the pandemic, the majority of which were recorded in Auckland, the largest city in the region.
The situation comes after the country was praised for successfully stomping out the coronavirus before the recent outbreak that has forced authorities to concede. The surge of the Delta variant centered in Auckland proved to be too much and has caused the city to be in strict lockdown for more than two months.
New Zealand's Vaccination Target
Over the weekend, New Zealand officials also announced the first community case recorded in its South Island after nearly a year. The situation has caused a growing concern among many people as health officials argued that the threat of further spread was still relatively low.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern previously announced that the country's federal government abandoned her elimination strategy and accepted living with the virus. Health officials later warned of a surge of cases until officials are able to vaccinate more residents against the infection, Reuters reported.
The situation comes as more and more coronavirus cases are admitted into New Zealand hospitals. One medical professional, Raiwiri Jansen, a Maori doctor, warned that dozens of new infections every day could later become hundreds or even thousands.
The doctor said that the threat persists that people will die from the virus and that vaccination was the only defense against the worsening pandemic. Jansen argued that when healthcare workers become scared of a virus, people should also be concerned about their well-being.
During an exhaustive question-and-answer session attended by several health professionals, nearly a third of the attendees decided to get vaccinated on the spot. New Zealand has switched to trying to contain the coronavirus cases and keep cases as few as possible, the New York Times reported.
Living With The Coronavirus
On Friday, the New Zealand government announced an ambitious target of vaccinating 90% of eligible residents before ending lockdowns. Ardern has been under constant pressure to bring the country's people to a safe haven after being in lockdown for more than two months.
Under the newly-announced framework, residents in Auckland can expect to regain their freedoms after 90% of people aged 12 and older in the three districts have been inoculated. In other areas of the country, people will regain even more public freedom once they achieve the 90% vaccination rate threshold.
However, authorities will require residents to use new vaccine certificates when going to places like bars, restaurants, and gyms. Officials also committed to providing funding to assist businesses struggling under the recent lockdown restrictions. The money will also be used to support and boost vaccination rates among Indigenous Maori, whose rates have been slowing down.
Despite setting a target much higher than most countries, Prime Minister Ardern said that Auckland could easily reach a 90% vaccination rate within a few weeks. However, health officials have found it increasingly difficult to urge the remaining unvaccinated residents to get inoculated against the coronavirus infection, CP24 reported.