New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is preparing to place the entire nation under strict restrictions as Omicron tightens grip over the country and forces the PM to even cancel her own wedding to Clarke Gayford, which was due in the coming weeks at Gisborne on the eastern coast.
The nation is expecting to reach 1,000 cases a day in the weeks to come and thousands a day after that. “Omicron has breached New Zealand’s borders and started spreading in the community,” Ardern was quoted as saying in media reports. “I know hearing these sorts of case numbers will sound deeply concerning. We’ll do everything that we can to slow the spread and reduce the number of cases we experience as a nation.”
According to the PM, nine cases of Omicron had been detected among a family who travelled to Auckland for a wedding. “That means Omicron is now circulating in Auckland and possibly the Nelson Marlborough region, if not elsewhere,” Ardern said, as reported by The Guardian.
By Sunday midnight, New Zealand would move to a “red” alert under which businesses and schools remain open and domestic travel can continue, but there are mandates for mask-wearing, restrictions on gathering size, and vaccine passes are required for entry to most non-essential businesses.
On her wedding cancellation, Ardern reportedly said: “Such is life. I am no different to, dare I say, thousands of other New Zealanders who have had much more devastating impacts felt by the pandemic. The most gutting of which is the inability to be with a loved one sometimes when they’re gravely ill. That will far, far outstrip any sadness I experience.”
She also talked about the importance of booster shots. “Omicron is now in more than 80 countries around the world – by delaying its arrival here, we’ve had the time to kick off boosters, vaccinations for children and (to) prepare,” she said, according to The Guardian.
In New Zealand, as many as 95 per cent of those aged 12 and above have taken at least one dose of the COVID vaccine, and 93 per cent have taken both.