NZ unveils plans to manage Covid-19 during holiday season

Updated December 15, 2020

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Wellington, Dec 15 (IANS) New Zealand's Covid-19 response Minister Chris Hipkins on Tuesday unveiled an extensive 'All of Government' plan aimed at managing outbreaks during the upcoming holiday season.

"Since March, New Zealand has strengthened and evolved its ability to respond to Covid-19," Xinhua news agency quoted Hipkins as saying in a statement.

"Improved testing and contact tracing capacity mean that since the Auckland August cluster, we've had four outbreaks which we have successfully managed without having to change alert levels.

"At the same time, we know the virus is continuing to rage offshore and despite our best efforts, there's always the possibility of further community cases here," the Minister added.

The holiday period poses challenges, he said, adding that a large number of people will be travelling, as well as more social gatherings and large events.

The planning approach to manage any community cases over the holidays supports New Zealand's elimination strategy for Covid-19, he said.

"Although we can't predict exactly where or how a community case might emerge, New Zealanders can be reassured planning has been extensive, and has included scenario testing and understanding actions that might be needed, including, as a last resort, Alert Level changes," Hipkins said.

The development comes as the country's overall coronavirus caseload and death toll have increased to 2,096 and 25, respectively.

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