PM prepares for possible Covid-19 community outbreaks

By Rukuwai Tipene-Allen

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is preparing for the possibility of Covid-19 community outbreaks.

The government is now looking to a localised approach to the response rather than moving toward a nationwide lockdown to keep the economy as safe as possible. The localised approach would mean the alert system would work in such a way to ensure a scaled up and rapid health response is available as soon as needed.

Ardern: “We only need to look to Victoria, New South Wales, Hong Kong, Singapore and Korea to see examples of other places that like us had the virus under control at a point in time only to see it emerge again.

"This does not mean anyone has failed - it means perfection in the response to a virus, and a pandemic, is just not possible. That is certainly the case as we see this pandemic continue to grow.”

Thirteen million cases have been reported by the World Health Organisation to date and Tuesday saw the biggest spike in confirmed cases to date, with over 215,000 reported cases

“That goes to show how quickly the virus can spread and it can move from being under control to out of control, and even the best plans still carry risk in a pandemic.”

The plan has gone through a cabinet process and the Prime Minister believes this is the right step forward should there be cases of community transmission.

“We would also take steps to stop the spread to other parts of the country so a regional shift in Alert Level would likely be applied that restricted travel. This would mean travel in or out of the city, town or region could be stopped, people in that place asked to work from home, and local restrictions on gatherings implemented.”

“The aim here is to contain the spread away from other areas to avoid the whole country having to have restrictions so we can remain at Alert Level 1 nationally, depending on the evidence of risk of spread outside the region.”