Level four lockdowns could become a thing of the past if Covid-19 vaccination rates are high enough, the health minister has signalled.
After a slow start, the vaccination rollout has gained speed with nearly 60 percent of the population having had one dose and 30 percent now fully vaccinated.
The Minister of Health Andrew Little said hard lockdowns can be avoided if the Director-General of Health’s working figure of 90 percent vaccination coverage is achieved.
“Level 4 has been vital when we’ve been coming to grips with what Covid is, and also as we come to grips with the impact of the Delta variant.
“If we get those responses right, then we can avoid level 4, ever, in the future.”
Little said those who get vaccinated are less likely to get as sick if they do catch Covid-19, compared to people who aren’t vaccinated. This meant those with vaccines would be more likely to be able to recover from the virus in their homes with support from visiting healthcare teams.
Daily cases numbers indicate community case numbers are plateauing, Little said.
New infection counts have been bouncing around in the teens most of this week, and were down to 11 yesterday, but 20 new cases were announced today.
Little said it was the nature of the Delta strain that those infected pass it on to the people they live with.
“We know these numbers do bounce around a wee bit, so there’s always going to be some volatility as we’re coming down.
“The numbers are nowhere near what they were a couple of weeks ago, which is good, and we just have to stick at it.
“This is working, this is contained, the number of unlinked cases is very small. So we just keep doing what we’re doing.”
Only one of today’s cases is not linked to a household or known contact, bring the total to seven in the past fortnight.
Follow-up wastewater testing at Snells Beach, north of Auckland, has come back negative for Covid-19.
There had been a detection there earlier this month.
But the Ministry of Health says it’s likely that was due to known cases in the area.
Recovered cases can continue shedding the virus for some weeks.