New Zealand well prepared for new COVID-19 variants, says PM Ardern

Author: | Posted in World News No comments

New Zealand is well prepared for the discovery of new variants of coronavirus that may be resistant to vaccines, said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Friday (November 26), including strain currently spreading in South Africa.

“All our planning around COVID, we have built in the possibility of variants in the future,” Ardern said in an interview for the upcoming Reuters Next conference.

“That’s why we maintain levels of public health protection. That’s why we have maintained the requirements at our border.”

Great Britain on Thursday drew attention to a newly identified variant of the coronavirus in South Africa with a spike protein that differed dramatically from that of the original coronavirus on which covid-19 vaccine is based.

The discovery of the B.1.1.529 strain, which has more mutations than the highly transmissible Delta variant, prompted Britain to accelerate with travel restrictions for South Africa and five neighboring countries.

The Ardennes government, under increasing pressure from the tourism industry and other companies, announced earlier this week that it would reopen its borders to fully vaccinated international travelers from 30 April.

Asked on Friday whether the new variant would likely delay that timetable, Ardern said the country had “a number of built-in measures to act as a protection stock”.

“With all our changes, we are constantly monitoring what happens to the pandemic as we go and we will continue to do so,” she added.

New Zealand’s border has been closed for almost two years. Along with its geographical isolation, the South Pacific country implemented some of the most severe pandemic restrictions among OECD countries, limiting the spread of covid-19 and helping its economy recover faster than many of its peers.

Ardern also said that New Zealand had already benefited from being able to observe seasonal effects of the coronavirus in other countries.

“It gives us the opportunity to see the effects of things like declining immunity, to see what happens to public health restrictions,” Ardern said.

“We are entering a phase now where we see the vaccine doing some heavy lifting, but we are maintaining a level of public health restrictions.”


Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *