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New Zealand in snap lockdown. Was it not inevitable

 Department of Microbiology, Dr. D.Y. Patil Medical College and Hospital, Dr.D.Y Patil Vidyapeeth, Pimpri, Pune, Maharashtra, India

Date of Submission23-Aug-2021
Date of Decision20-Sep-2021
Date of Acceptance27-Sep-2021

Correspondence Address:
Shahzad Mirza,
Department of Microbiology, Dr. D. Y. Patil Medical College and Hospital, Dr. D. Y Patil Vidyapeeth, Pimpri, Pune, Maharashtra
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/mjdrdypu.mjdrdypu_692_21

How to cite this URL:
Das NK, Patil R, Khan S, Mirza S. New Zealand in snap lockdown. Was it not inevitable. Med J DY Patil Vidyapeeth [Epub ahead of print] [cited 2022 Dec 6]. Available from: https://www.mjdrdypv.org/preprintarticle.asp?id=332583

This letter is in response to the letter published in your esteemed journal titled “Should New Zealand be really enthusiastic about zero cases in the middle of a pandemic: A thought.”[1] Recently, the New Zealand Government has announced “Alert level 4” in relation to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).[2] New Zealand is currently in snap lockdown for 3 days starting from August 17, 2021, with Auckland and Coromandel being shut for 7 days over reports of a single case. The case is first in about 6 months in this relatively virus-free country. This has ensured travel restrictions, school closings, and restriction on gatherings.[3] It somehow vindicates the assumptions mentioned in the article that it may not be beneficial in the long run for an island nation to be naïve for COVID-19 infections. In spite of staying ahead of the curve the whole time during this pandemic, New Zealand has actually somehow gone behind. Like in an 800-m race, due to curved trajectory of the paths, it is actually not possible to say who is leading and who is lagging. It has now been confirmed that the outbreak is due to the highly transmissible Delta variant and is related to the outbreak in Australia. Till now, at least 7 people have been confirmed positive and this number is expected to rise to about 120 at least according to models.[4] This may have been partly possible due to the tardy nature of COVID-19 vaccination in New Zealand. It has only fully vaccinated 20% of its small population while 33% have got a single dose only.[5] The rate of vaccination in New Zealand is one of the lowest among the developed nations. Top scientific bodies now claim that New Zealand cannot keep itself isolated for prolonged periods of time as the virus is here to stay. Clearly, with pressure mounting over the leadership from all corners, it is going to be a herculean task to manage the crisis in future. Clearly, with pressure mounting over the political leadership, it is going to be a herculean task to manage the present crisis and to avoid any such things in future.[6] With strict lockdowns in the initial phase of pandemic which helped New Zealand to tide over the COVID-19 crisis, a new unwanted problem has beginning to show up there. It has been named by some as “Immunity debt.” Due to this, when the society is opening up, a lot of children are suffering from other endemic infectious diseases in an increased number. Those infections had a baseline number in a particular season, and they provided natural immunity to the children. As a consequence of lockdowns, many children were left naive to these infections but are now increasingly suffering in increased numbers after school openings. As a result, the hospitals are now overwhelmed with more cases than ever.[7] This “Immunity debt” can happen in other countries which had a very strict lockdown and potentially have a spiraling effect on weaker sections of society. With the rest of the world now looking up to unlocking itself gradually, let's hope New Zealand and Australia do not pay a price for being isolated geographically.

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  References Top

Das NK, Bhatt P, Khan S, Mirza S. Should New Zealand be really enthusiastic about zero cases in the middle of a pandemic: A thought. Med J DY Patil Vidyapeeth 2021;14:105-6.  Back to cited text no. 1
  [Full text]  
About the Alert System. Available from: https://covid19.govt.nz/alert-levels-and-updates/about-the-alert-system/. [Last accessed on 2021 Aug 21].  Back to cited text no. 2
Covid 19 Coronavirus: Level 4 Lockdown-What You Need to Know. Available from: https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/covid-19-coronavirus-level-4- lockdown-what-you-need-to-know/ VLAXZCV7SA63OKDXWFGNKZEHFY/. [Last accessed on 2021 Aug 21].  Back to cited text no. 3
New Zealand, In Lockdown Over 1 Covid Case, Warns Outbreak Will Worsen. Available from: https://www.ndtv.com/world- news/coronavirus-new-zealand -in-lockdown-over-1- case-warns-outbreak- will-worsen-2513032. [Last accessed on 2021 Aug 21].  Back to cited text no. 4
New Zealand Enters Nationwide Lockdown Over One Covid Case. Available from: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-58241619. [Last accessed on 2021 Aug 21].  Back to cited text no. 5
Menon P. Delta Outbreak Exposes New Zealand's Low Vaccination Rates. Available from: https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/ new-zealand-covid-19-cases-jump-21-origin- outbreak-identified-2021-08-19/. [Last accessed on 2021 Aug 21].  Back to cited text no. 6
McClure T. New Zealand Children Falling Ill in High Numbers Due to Covid 'Immunity Debt'. Available from: https://amp.theguardian.com/world/2021/jul/08/new-zealand-children- falling-ill-in-high-numbers-due-to- covid-immunity-debt. [Last accessed on 2021 Sep 16].  Back to cited text no. 7


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