Once envied by the world for its handling of the pandemic, New Zealand is now preparing its health system for an influx of Covid-19 patients as it moves away from its elimination strategy.

The Department of Health modeling predicts more than 5,000 cases per week in the Auckland and Northland regions next year, even assuming 90% of the eligible population is vaccinated, the health minister said on Thursday. Andrew Little. The figure does not include the rest of the country, where modeling is still ongoing.

“This is the worst-case scenario, but even at this level, the vast majority of people who would be infected would recover at home or elsewhere in the community, as the majority will be vaccinated and will not suffer as badly as those who are not. not vaccinated, ”Little said in an interview with Radio New Zealand.

New Zealand’s healthcare system has yet to be tested by an increase in Covid cases, but ministers now concede that a lockdown in Auckland’s largest city will not beat the delta infectious strain and are preparing relax restrictions as vaccination rates increase. The daily number of new cases is worsening, with 71 infections reported Thursday, the highest number since early September.

Through most of 2020 and much of this year, as many countries retreated as the virus devastated populations, New Zealanders were able to enjoy life largely unrestricted after elimination with successful community transmission. Concerts were held, rugby matches continued, bars and restaurants were open, children were going to school and other than the border being closed, life was apparently normal.

But the delta variant put an end to it all. In August, a single positive case resulted in the containment of the entire country at the strictest level. Over eight weeks later, Auckland is still locked up, but Delta continues to circulate. The virus recently infiltrated neighboring areas of Northland and Waikato, causing further lockdowns.

With only around 60% of the eligible population fully vaccinated, the government is rushing to vaccinate as many people as possible before the epidemic spreads further.

Little’s plan marks a move away from the isolation of all Covid patients in quarantine facilities or government hospitals. The minister said he was confident that hospitals will have the capacity to cope with acute cases.

“In terms of being able to respond to additional patients, I have no doubts that it is there and that the planning is there to ensure that we are handling this carefully,” he said at a press conference. .

Little did not specify when the plan would be introduced, saying it depends on vaccination rates.

The slow deployment of the vaccine in New Zealand has seen it drop in Bloomberg’s Covid resilience rankings. For a long time he occupied the first place; it is now 38th, one place ahead of Bangladesh.

Yet only 28 people have died from Covid to date.

This story was posted from an agency feed with no text editing. Only the title has been changed.

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