Pacific Media Watch newsdesk
New Zealand’s largest and most influential newspaper has warned the country against “lockdown fatigue” as the major city Auckland entered its fifth week of isolation, saying “unrest is showing”.
Noting the rise in public “anger and recrimination” in response to New Zealand’s outbreak of the deadly delta variant — with a drop to 15 new cases yesterday — The New Zealand Herald warned in an editorial today against the country slipping into a record matching the worst loss of life during the 1918 influenza pandemic.
The paper called on New Zealanders to “stay true to the course” of elimination.
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“Past generations proved their worth as New Zealanders in wars and, yes, epidemics. They were less informed or resourced than we are today,” said the Herald.
“A lethal influenza pandemic that coursed through New Zealand between October and December in 1918 killed about 9000 people in two months. No other event has claimed so many New Zealand lives in such a short time.
“Do we want to be the generation that beats this tragic record?”
The newspaper said Auckland had now gone further in a lockdown than previous periods under the highest covid alert level 4 and unrest was showing.
‘Anxiety of the unexpected’
“That is to be expected. Last year’s rāhui [lockdown] was a bother and held the added anxiety of the unexpected,” said the Herald.
“This time around, however, there’s no novelty to Zoom meetings or breadmaking. There are few teddy bears in windows or scrawled chalk messages of support on footpaths.
“This time, Auckland knows what to expect; more of what little happened yesterday and the day before.”
Further cracks were showing too in the solidarity that “this team of New Zealanders once boasted of”, said the paper.
“Anger and recrimination leaped into the throats of many after a couple were charged with exploiting their essential services accreditation to skip through the cordons for a break in Wānaka [a high profile South Island resort].
“Even the brisk walk around the neighbourhood to reset the senses and ‘stretch’ the legs has become a strain on tolerance as people brush past each other on bush tracks, oblivious to the 2m physical distancing rules.
“Whether or not people are wearing masks has become a constant commentary for many on their trudge around the block,” said the Herald.
‘Kindness pushed back’
“Kindness is being pushed to the back teeth by impatience and a lack of forbearance.
“But we are not this. We need to remember we are still the same people who stared this virus down last year. Sure, the delta variant is more infectious, but the same measures are still the best means to break the chain of transmission.
“We cannot afford to relinquish the grip on the elimination effort yet.”
New Zealand’s rates of vaccination were still too low to protect loved and valuable members of New Zealand’s diverse communities.
Only 34 percent of New Zealanders are fully vaccinated with two doses in spite of a recent surge in the vaccination rollout. This is slightly more than the 33 percent unvaccinated
The Herald called on New Zealanders to stick with the government policy and observe the rules.
“Once enough people are inoculated to slow down rampant spread, then restrictions can ease,” it said.
“Let’s get on with it.”
This content originally appeared on Asia Pacific Report and was authored by Pacific Media Watch.