Ending COVD-19 restrictions: NZ's Delta Variant Lessons

Updated: Aug 31, 2021

New Zealand was praised for being the most effective country in containing the Coronavirus. The Prime Minister, Jacinda Arden led the country to impose some of the most effective mechanisms to halt the spread of COVID-19.

The main mode of preventing the pandemic was through swift and strict lockdowns as well as contact tracing which prevented the spread of Coronavirus. Despite the proximity of New Zealand to China, where the first case of the SARS2 Coronavirus was reported, New Zealand was able to institute a series of successful measures that kept infection rates low. New Zealand's figures were far below neighboring Australia, and every New Zealander had a role to play in preventing and controlling the spread of the pandemic.

Image Source: New Zealand Herald

How did the Delta Variant get into New Zealand?

Things changed significantly when the chief executive of the Ministry of Health, Dr. Ashley Bloomfield announced 21 cases of the deadly Delta variant in New Zealand. This raised questions about following a strict lockdown regime and shutting off the borders for a very long time.

An obvious conclusion is that the Delta variant might have mutated in New Zealand or it could have been brought in from another country even though New Zealand was tightly shut. Then, there is the possibility of a biological warfare incident which is difficult to prove or understand.

All the same, Dr. Ashley Bloomfield assured the world that his ministry will critically examine samples and compare DNA strings to trace the source of the deadly Delta Variant and how it got to New Zealand.

The Delta Variant & COVID-Control

In general, viruses are dormant until they enter an appropriate host. A virus activates its features of living things and biological organisms when they are in such a host. This leads to consumption, growth, reproduction, and death of the virus. When the survival of a virus affects its host adversely, it is classified as a disease.

Coronavirus is a common virus that has survived in some animals. The SARS2-Coronavirus (named COVID-19) appeared as a variation of the family of Coronaviruses that could spread to humans and could not be cured.

In the early days of the pandemic, the main focus of health authorities around the world was to save lives and prevent the spread of the virus.

However, as more research was committed to COVID-19 virus, several strains of the virus were identified, and this laid the foundation for better care of patients.

The deadly Delta strain of COVID-19 was identified as problematic from the onset and tests were conducted to ascertain the features of each strain in patients. Obviously, this promoted a better mechanism of allocating resources to deal with this strain.

What do we learn from New Zealand’s approach to the Delta Variant?

First, the possibility of the Delta variant getting to New Zealand which was shut off shows that going defensive is not always ideal. While it is helpful to impose a blanket lockdown on a city or country to prevent a massive spread of the pandemic, there is always a possibility that the pandemic could spread to a sealed-off country or community.

Secondly, blanket and total lockdowns have merits in helping the health services of a given country to manage cases. In other words, when there is no lockdown and there are many cases of COVID in a given country, the healthcare system cannot deal with an explosion of cases and this will cause untold suffering and death. This could lead to a triage-like situation that happened in some parts of the world in 2020 where there was a lack of ventilators to deal with the spike in the cases.

Thirdly, it is apparent that there are deadly strains of COVID-19 and other strains that might not be deadly, which can be treated. Hence, the main challenge of the scientific and biomedical industry is to study the different stains and provide solutions that treat each strain as effectively and efficiently as possible.

Fourthly, countries need to buy time to vaccinate as many people as possible. The most responsible thing for any country switching from a total lockdown to a partial lockdown or no lockdown is to vaccinate as many people as possible to increase resistance.

Finally, as the Prime Minister of New Zealand announced, there would be a structured and cautious end to the lockdown. This will include:

(a) Categorizing countries around the world on the basis of the level of safety

(b) Documenting and monitoring people who exit the country to ascertain where they are going

(c) Monitoring people who return to the country by ascertaining where they went and the risks they carry

(d) Modify the COVID restrictions in proportion to emerging consensuses among experts on the matter.

How will this affect the end of the COVID Restrictions

From these pointers, it can be speculated that some key pointers would prevail in the process of ending lockdowns and other restrictions including:

1. Lockdowns will be judged as disproportionate and not so effective. This will lay the foundation for change.

2. Transitioning from lockdowns would be done with caution and selectively.

3. Emergencies, trade and economic pointers will play major roles in determining authorization standards for people who move to and from selected countries.

4. Businesses would have to re-strategize their operations in response to these changes by proactively monitoring new directives in the countries they do business in.

5. Corporate strategies would have to be rebuilt along with the changes that would occur until a comprehensive solution is found to COVID-19 across the world.

Glen Grid

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