New Zealand has decided to reopen its border bookings for people returning home, as the number of coronavirus cases continues to fall.
Whilst Auckland remains in lockdown, the rest of New Zealand is functioning comparatively unrestricted. Another 14 new cases were reported on Wednesday.
Health officials in the country are focused on so-called “mystery cases”, which may be an indication that the virus is spreading undetected.
“Trends are heading, generally speaking, in the right direction,” Covid-19 response minister, Chris Hipkins, said. “But you never say never because things can change – they can change quite quickly.”
Hipkins added that the managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) system would reopen for bookings after it was postponed due to the Delta variant outbreak.
People wishing to re-enter New Zealand are required to reserve a place in MIQ and spend a fortnight in a quarantine facility. However, the limited places are typically booked up months in advance, reports The Guardian.
Bookings resumed on Wednesday with 3,000 rooms released within the system.
In regard to vaccines, 67.5% of the population aged 12 and over have had at least one vaccine, whilst 34.6% were fully vaccinated.
Hipkins went on to say he was confident New Zealand would reach high vaccination rates: “We have consistently seen the level of vaccine hesitancy declining in New Zealand, from the beginning of the year where it was still quite a significant number to a much smaller number now. I think we can be increasingly confident that we can get up to very high levels of vaccination in New Zealand.”
According to the director general of health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield, the current outbreak had “given many people, in particular Aucklanders, a reality check that actually the virus is not just real, but it can be harmful – it has put people in hospital and people in intensive care, it has affected hundreds of people in Auckland.”
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