Wellington, Sept 23 (BNA): New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Thursday that the country should aim to increase the vaccination rate by 90%, and could scrap strict coronavirus lockdown measures once enough people are vaccinated.
New Zealand wiped out COVID-19 last year and remained largely virus-free until an outbreak of the highly contagious Delta variant in August led to a nationwide lockdown.
With its largest city, Auckland still in lockdown and new cases being reported every day, Ardern said vaccinations will replace lockdown as the main tool against the virus, allowing authorities to isolate only those infected.
“If the rate (of vaccinations) is high enough, we will be able to move away from lockdowns as a tool,” she said, according to Reuters.
Ardern said the highest possible vaccination rates would give the greatest liberties, adding that the country should aim to increase the vaccination rate by 90%.
After a slow start to its vaccination campaign, about 40% of New Zealand adults were fully vaccinated and about 75% had received at least one dose.
Authorities reported 15 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, all in Auckland, bringing the total number of cases in the current outbreak to 1,123.
The Director-General of Health, Ashley Bloomfield, warned earlier this week that New Zealand may not reach zero cases of coronavirus again.