As the rest of the world moves on from the pandemic, New Zealand’s far-left government is extending its draconian Covid mandates.
The nation’s radical new Prime Minister Chris Hipkins has decided to extend New Zealand’s current Covid restrictions for at least another two months.
The decision means that mandatory seven-day isolation and mask-wearing in health settings will remain in place.
Hipkins argues that isolation rules currently help to relieve pressure on the health system.
The PM suggested that the country would eventually reach a point of removing all COVID-19 restrictions but fell short of setting any specific dates.
“We are heading towards a point where COVID-19 will become normal,” Hipkins said of the virus that is now part of everyday life for the rest of the world.
“I would expect, certainly at the latest, by the end of the winter, we’ll be into that zone,” he said during a Monday press conference.
Minister for Health Ayesha Verrall said the Cabinet had asked for further progress in looking at allowing people who are not symptomatic or are mild cases to return earlier than the seven days.
“Isolation remains effective in managing spread and keeping case numbers down, and it also helps reduce pressure on our hospital services,” she said.
“But we need to make sure our settings are right and look at examples of what is working around the world.
“A test to return to work rule for lower risk or mild or asymptomatic cases could help reduce the strain on some workforces this winter.
“Cabinet will consider advice on this within the next two months.”
The government says it bases its decisions on modelling by COVID-19 Modelling Aotearoa (New Zealand).
The group suggests that an end of mandatory isolation would cause a 13 to 25 percent increase in hospital admissions and deaths in the subsequent six months.
Infections would then settle after four to six months at a level “only slightly higher” than if mandatory isolation was maintained.
“This modelling assumes that the behavioural change in response to any policy update occurs immediately,” it said.
“If, instead, the behavioural change occurs more gradually, this would reduce the size of the initial peak and lead to a more gradual transition onto the same long-term trends.
“The model results suggest that, beyond the four to six months following a policy change, long-term outcomes are relatively insensitive to the timing of any decision to end mandatory isolation.”
New Zealand’s conservative opposition party ACT blasted the decision.
The ACT party describes New Zealand as a “global oddity” and “a kind of Hermit Kingdom redux.”
“Not only is the isolation requirement draconian and out of touch, but it is also ineffective,” ACT leader David Seymour said.
“Nobody knows the true compliance rate, least of all the Government.
“In the 14 months since last February, the rest of the world has moved on.
“In the UK, isolation has been voluntary since last September.
“Australia’s National Cabinet ended mandatory isolation requirements last October.”
National MP Chris Bishop called the decision “overly cautious” and said the country should move on to treat COVID-19 precisely like the flu.
“Most New Zealanders have moved on … people have moved to a model of self-care, and that’s the right way to go,” he said, reported RNZ.
Meanwhile, the left-wing Green Party said the government made the right decision.
“Self-isolating for seven days when we have COVID is a clear and simple step we can all take to keep others safe—and the government is right to keep the requirement in place,” said Teanau Tuiono, Green Party spokesperson for COVID-19 response.
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