Jacinda Ardern accused of vaccine catastrophe as NZ plunged into lockdown and panic buying

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Since the pandemic began, New Zealand has been pursuing a “zero Covid” policy aimed at eliminating the virus rather than merely containing its spread. On Tuesday a full shutdown was ordered by the government, after one coronavirus case was discovered.

New Zealand is highly vulnerable to COVID-19 due to its sluggish vaccination programme.

Only 21 percent of its population are fully vaccinated, versus 77 percent for the UK.

This “extremely slow” rollout was attacked by Judith Collins, leader of the opposition National Party.

Speaking to 1News she said: “If there’s a failure, it is around getting vaccinations into the country and then getting them into people.”

She added: “Let’s not kid ourselves, we’re 120th in the world [for vaccine rollout]. Clearly their targets are extremely low compared to what people will be expecting. If you set yourself a very low target, chances are you might just reach it.

“Why did it take so long for the Government to order the vaccines?”

Israel, which has one of the world’s most advanced vaccine rollouts, is already offering people third “booster” shots.

Since the first new case was discovered on Tuesday, another nine have been confirmed, all of the highly infectious Delta variant.

In response the New Zealand government put the whole country in level four for three days.

This means non-essential workers can only leave their homes to exercise, shop for basic goods or receive medical treatment.

Those outside are required to be masked at all times.

The first patient diagnosed lives in Auckland, and recently visited Coromandel.

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As a result both cities have been placed in level four lockdown for a week.

Defending the policy Ms Ardern said: “We want to be short and sharp rather than light and long.

“We’ve seen what happened in Sydney. We don’t want that experience here.

“As we see overseas, particularly in Sydney, unnecessary trips outdoors have spread the virus and many communities have not been able to get on top of it.

“By and large there’s been really good compliance. I just say to Kiwis: Do what we’ve done before.”

Australia, which like New Zealand has a slow vaccine rollout, is struggling with a new wave of coronavirus infections.

Much of the country is now in lockdown, with the situation in Sydney particularly severe.

Ms Ardern added: “Going hard and early has worked for us before. Beating Delta means lifting our game.

“While we know that Delta is a more dangerous enemy to combat, the same actions that overcome the virus last year can be applied to beat it again.

“The simplest thing New Zealanders can do to stop the spread of the virus is to stay at home.”
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