New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says her government will re-impose tough Covid-19 restrictions – forcing her to cancel her own wedding plans – as Asia-Pacific nations struggle to prevent the spread of this variant.
The measures, which include introducing stricter mask-wearing rules and social distancing, follow an outbreak of nine cases in a family traveling between Auckland and the South Island for a wedding. New Zealand has been closed to non-resident foreigners since March 2020.
The restrictions in New Zealand and other Asia-Pacific countries contrast with Britain, where Boris Johnson, whose prime ministership is under threat from the Covid-19 party scandal, said last week “Plan B” pandemic measures such as wearing a mask in public. Shipping will be decrease.
“Our strategy is to slow the spread of Omicron,” said Ardern. New Zealand was one of the last countries to abandon efforts to eliminate the virus by closing its borders and imposing strict lockdown measures – making China the only major country still pursuing such a strategy. so.
The latest restrictions have affected Ardern personally as she has called off her own wedding, which is scheduled to take place in the coming weeks. “Life is like that,” she said, noting that thousands of New Zealanders have endured far more devastating experiences during the pandemic.
In neighboring Australia, which has struggled to find enough testing resources to cope with the rapid spread of Omicron, the daily positive case rate rose to nearly 90,000 last week.
In Hong Kong, more than 4,000 residents in two public housing complexes have been locked in an unprecedented five-day mandatory lockdown following what local pandemic advisors have described as a “super-spreader” event in Hong Kong. one of the buildings.
More than 100 people in two buildings have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to officials, after a cleaner infected with the Omicron variant is believed to have seeded an outbreak.
Carrie Lam, the city’s chief executive, said the government is unlikely to lift restrictions before the Chinese New Year holiday. She defended the drastic measures as pro-Beijing newspapers in the city warned her government that containing the outbreak was a matter of “national safety”.
Beijing also faces a growing outbreak as China’s capital city on Saturday reported 12 new infections, bringing the number of cases reported over the past week to 34. The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics will begin in less than two weeks.
In Taiwan, health authorities have stepped up tracking and tracing measures and asked companies to urge factory workers to be fully vaccinated as the local spread of Omicron is increasing.
On Saturday, the number of domestic transmissions rose to 82 when testing among about 1,000 workers in an electronics factory showed 60 positive. On Sunday, the government reported another 52 cases of domestic transmission.
Apart from a relatively small outbreak last May, the country has largely avoided community spread and has reported only a total of 18,327 infections and 851 deaths from Covid-19.
Japan is also grappling with its sixth wave of infections, with daily Covid-19 infections hitting 50,000 on Saturday, setting a new record for five consecutive days.
Many governors are asking the central government to place their provinces in a state of quasi-emergency to avoid overwhelming the health system. The government is expected to extend the measure to a majority of 47 counties as early as Tuesday.