NEW ZEALAND – Prior to today 20th August, the cases that tested positive for COVID-19 were all in Auckland. Earlier today in an update, it has been reported that 3 of the 11 new cases are in Wellington. In light of these news, the entire country will now be under lockdown till 11:59pm on Tuesday 24th August. There will likely be an announcement on Tuesday regarding an extension of the lockdown for Auckland.
While public opinion is divided on putting the country under level 4 (highest level) lockdown after what’s seen as not that many cases compared to overseas numbers, the Auckland Mayor Phil Goff has said, “Until we know the extent of the spread and until the lockdown has been in effect long enough to stop transmission, level 4 restrictions are necessary.” This echoes what Prime Minister Jacinda Arden has been saying. In her words, their approach when it comes to dealing with the COVID-19 situation has always been to “go hard and go early”. While this is the case in how they are meting out instructions on the lockdown, the people have voiced out regarding the slow vaccine rollout.
Thousands of people all over Auckland queued for the Pfizer vaccine during this lockdown period. It was reported that there were people waiting in long queues for almost 10 hours (including essential workers).
According to a report by NZ Herald, “Five Auckland vaccination centres are closed today because staff have been redirected to help out at overrun Covid-19 testing sites”. While the intention is to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible while also running COVID-19 tests, the lack of manpower is making this extremely tricky. Frontliners are spread thin and so are the people’s patience. There are people showing up to vaccination centres only to find out they’re closed and they would need to reschedule. Others queue at testing sites for hours on end only to be turned away after long waits (goes for close contacts too).
Regardless, both the Prime Minister Jacinda Arden and the Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield, have been keeping the public updated promptly of decisions being made and steps being taken to stop the spread of the virus. Collectively, the people have been very responsive and united in working together by keeping their distance and sharing important information with one another.