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No lockdowns in New Zealand when Omicron variant spreads: PM

Updated on: 21 January,2022 06:58 AM IST  |  Wellington
Agencies |

Jacinda Ardern says outbreak is inevitable and they will tighten restrictions when it is detected

No lockdowns in New Zealand when Omicron variant spreads: PM

Buddhist monks wearing masks to help protect themselves from the coronavirus, take a test for the liturgical Pali language at Wat Molilokayaram in Bangkok, Thailand on Thursday. Pic/AP

New Zealand is among the few remaining countries to have avoided any outbreaks of the omicron variant — but Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Thursday an outbreak was inevitable and the nation would tighten restrictions as soon as one was detected. But she also said that New Zealand would not impose the lockdowns that it has used previously, including for the delta variant.

“This stage of the pandemic is different to what we have dealt with before. Omicron is more transmissible,” Ardern said. “That is going to make it harder to keep it out, but it will also make it more challenging to control once it arrives. But just like before, when Covid changes, we change.”

Ardern said that within 24 to 48 hours of omicron being detected in the community, the nation would move into its “red” setting. That would allow businesses to remain open and domestic travel to continue, but would require schoolchildren to wear masks and limit crowds to 100 people.

Currently most of New Zealand is at the “orange” setting, which requires some mask wearing and proof of vaccination but doesn’t limit crowd sizes. About 93% of New Zealanders aged 12 and over are fully vaccinated and 52% have had a booster shot. The country has just begun vaccinating children aged between 5 and 11.

Austrian parliament to vote on universal vaccine mandate

Austria’s parliament was to vote Thursday on introducing a Covid-19 vaccine mandate for adults, the first in Europe. It will apply to all residents age 18 and over, with exemptions for pregnant women, individuals who for medical reasons can’t be vaccinated, and people who recovered from  coronavirus in past six months.

Germany expects peak in mid-Feb

Germany’s health minister expects the coronavirus infections in the country to keep rising for several weeks before peaking next month. Karl Lauterbach said late Wednesday that “the wave will reach its peak roughly in mid-February.” 

No. of new cases reported globally in the past 24 hours

Total no. of cases worldwide

Total no. of deaths worldwide

Source: WHO/Johns Hopkins

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