Chlöe Swarbrick 'not clear' on NZ's current Covid strategy

Source: 1News

Green Party MP Chlöe Swarbrick says she's "not clear" on New Zealand's current Covid-19 strategy.

On Thursday, the Government made several announcements on the nation's handling of the pandemic, including a plan to enable future Covid-19 cases to recover at home as well as allowing 25 companies to import and use rapid antigen testing.

The moves suggest tactical and strategic adjustments are being made to acknowledge the virus is here to stay in Aotearoa.

It's left some Kiwis, including Swarbrick, confused.

"I think up until Monday last week it was really clear where we as a country, as a team of 5 million sat - that was perusal of the elimination strategy which had put us at a position of the envy for the world with regard to freedoms at Alert Level 1 that had not been enjoyed at many comparable jurisdictions," Swarbrick told Breakfast.

"But on Monday we saw that we were confronted by a fork in the road, that is that the virus had got into some of our most vulnerable communities.

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - OCTOBER 17: Green Party Candidate for Auckland Chloe Swarbrick meets supporters during the Greens Party Election Function at Grid X on October 17, 2020 in Auckland, New Zealand. Voters head to the polls today to elect the 53rd Parliament of New Zealand. The 2020 New Zealand General Election was originally due to be held on Saturday 19 September but was delayed due to the re-emergence of COVID-19 in the community. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

"That fork in the road was to continue to pursue the elimination strategy but in order to do so to make sure that support was given to those who needed it to stay the course, instead we've changed tact and I'm not quite clear where we stand at the moment."

Swarbrick said the Greens and public-facing health officials had backed the elimination strategy, but she added "that changed" and they were "blindsided" by the decision for Auckland to move to Level 3.

"It's really clear people were struggling, it's also really clear that this virus has taken route in some really marginalised communities. The response to that shouldn't have been to say 'we're going to loosen restrictions and let this thing in a little bit more'," she said.

"It should have been to say 'we're going to listen to Māori, we're going to listen to Pasifika leaders who have been crying out to leaders on the response, particularly for vaccinations."

Also on Breakfast, ACT leader David Seymour said he was not surprised Swarbrick was confused about what New Zealand's Covid-19 response is now, adding that a lot of people felt the same way.

He said the the Government was "totally unprepared in every respect" for Delta.

"I think the Government believed they were going to get away with a perfect home run, they were going to lockdown, lock out, have zero Covid until vaccination offered population immunity.

"Now two things have basically gone wrong," he said.

"Number one, Delta changed the game. MIQ just couldn't keep Delta or Covid out of New Zealand forever, and even if we did achieve zero cases we were going to be facing another outbreak sooner or later.

"The second thing is, and I say this very carefully - I'm a big proponent of vaccination, it's incredibly important people get vaccinated in order that we don't all end up in ICU and that's the fact - but vaccination has not delivered the population immunity, the herd immunity that some of us might have hoped.

"Now we have a situation where Delta is out in the community, we're not going to get to herd immunity the way we'd hoped and the problem is that the Government hadn't thought about what it would do in this scenario. They've made absolutely no preparations to actually fight Covid at home until there actually was an outbreak."

So far, 83 per cent of the eligible population have had at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern hopes Saturday's Vaxathon events will add a further 100,000 jabs administered to that tally.

Super Saturday Vaxathon will be on TVNZ2 from noon to 7pm on Saturday.

On Thursday, 71 community cases added to a total of 1790 in this Delta outbreak.