The challenges of containing inevitable outbreaks once borders reopen should not be underestimated. That’s why elimination remains the guiding principle and mass vaccination the imperative.
Even with the highest possible rates of vaccination, New Zealand will need to keep up public health measures, or consider letting go of the concept of elimination and focus instead on disease control.
New Zealand and Australia both had COVID-19 outbreaks originating from border facilities, but as frontline border workers are prioritised for vaccination, the risk of this happening again is lower.
The first year of dealing with the pandemic has taught New Zealand many lessons — including how we might tackle systemic social and environmental problems.
The approval of the first of four COVID-19 vaccines marks the first step in New Zealand’s plans for a Pacific-wide immunisation rollout.
Despite the latest tweaks to border testing rules, the risk of imported infection remains very high. NZ’s wider response needs upgrading —including reducing the large numbers of infected returnees.
New Zealanders will have be prepared to change holiday plans if there is an new community outbreak.
With six COVID-19 incursions in three months, New Zealand needs to change its approach to border control to reduce the risk of quarantine staff catching the virus from travellers.