New Zealand's coronavirus strategy is 'very dangerous', Aussie health chief says

Australian Associated Press
·2-min read

Australia's top health official says New Zealand's decision to lift coronavirus restrictions after seemingly squashing the disease was dangerous.

Acting Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said on Friday that New Zealand returned to pre-pandemic life after eradicating the virus.

"That is just very dangerous," he told the Senate's coronavirus inquiry.

"To go right back to a pre-COVID state makes them extremely vulnerable."

Professor Kelly said New Zealand's fresh outbreak, which has spread to 30 people, showed why well-performing Australian states must remain vigilant.

Australia's Acting Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly speaks to the media during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra on Friday. Source: AAP
Australia's Acting Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly speaks to the media during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra on Friday. Source: AAP

"What has happened in New Zealand is a real demonstration of why we have to remain cautious," he said.

Auckland has returned to lockdown and social distancing measures have been reimposed across other parts of the country.

Prof Kelly said New Zealand's initial hard lockdown had large economic impacts but was successful.

He believes the government should have continued to limit mass gatherings and continue other physical distancing measures.

Lockdown extended for 12 more days

Auckland’s lockdown has been extended as the coronavirus outbreak in New Zealand continues to grow.

The lockdown in Auckland and the restrictions across the country will remain for another 12 days, taking the Level 3 lockdown for the city to two full weeks.

Earlier Friday it was revealed Auckland's COVID-19 cluster has grown to at least 30 people.

“Thirty-eight people linked to the cluster are now in government managed quarantine as a precautionary measure,” New Zealand Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern said on Friday afternoon, following a national cabinet meeting.

“We have undertaken more than 30,000 tests in the last 48 hours,” she said.

Medical staff prepare take a COVID-19 test from a visitor to a drive through community based assessment centre in Christchurch, New Zealand, Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020.
Medical staff prepare take a COVID-19 test from a visitor to a drive through community based assessment centre in Christchurch on Thursday. Source: AP

Ms Ardern revealed that the the earliest case they have found through tracing was located at Mt Wellington – the location of the Americold cold storage warehouse in Auckland – involving a worker who became sick on approximately July 31.

“This may not yet be the origin of the outbreak, but on the information we have today, it's the earliest sign of the reemergence of the virus,” she said.

“In terms of the ongoing investigation to identify where the virus originated from, there are still no clear connections at this point.”

Do you have a story tip? Email: newsroomau@yahoonews.com.

You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and download the Yahoo News app from the App Store or Google Play.