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New Zealand and Australia relax their health restrictions

The Covid-19 pandemic has killed more than 5,100,000 people worldwide since the end of 2019, according to a report established by Agence France-Presse (AFP) from official sources, Sunday, November 21 at midday. . The United States is the most affected (771,013 deaths), ahead of Brazil (612,587), India (465,662), Mexico (292,372) and Russia (264,095).

In graphics: Austria, Germany, the Netherlands… visualize the extent of the wave in certain European countries

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates, however, taking into account the excess mortality directly and indirectly linked to Covid-19, that the overall toll of the pandemic could be two to three times higher.

New Zealand and Australia, which have long applied particularly strict measures, are easing their policies to fight the epidemic.

  • New Zealand abandons lockdowns

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announces the end of confinement in Auckland, November 22, 2021, in Wellington.

New Zealand authorities will end Auckland’s three-and-a-half-month lockdown in early December, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday (22 November). The country’s largest city is currently isolated from the rest of New Zealand, but roadblocks preventing most residents from leaving are due to be lifted on December 15.

Mme Ardern also announced that from December 3 New Zealand would adopt a new outbreak response aimed at containing the spread of the Delta variant rather than attempting to eliminate it altogether. “The harsh truth is that [le variant] Delta is here and is not going away anytime soon”she told the press.

Until now, his government has aimed for a complete elimination of the virus, a so-called “zero Covid” strategy, with strict containment measures, rigorous contact tracing and strict border controls. The disease caused only forty deaths, out of a population of five million.

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Mme Ardern originally planned to change policy when the country reached 90% vaccination but eventually moved forward with reopening when the vaccination level was around 83%.

The new system looks like traffic lights: green means virtually no control of the virus; orange imposes the wearing of a mask in certain places; red allows businesses to remain open only to vaccinated customers and observing physical distance. Auckland will be placed in red, the premier said, adding that authorities were still classifying other areas. Strict quarantine rules for arrivals from abroad will remain in place, but Mme Ardern has pledged to relax them early next year.

  • Australia reopens borders to students and skilled workers

The first arrivals at Sydney Airport on November 1, 2021, as vaccinated Australians living overseas were allowed to return to their country without quarantine for the first time since March 2020.

“Australia is reopening. » It was with these words that Home Secretary Karen Andrews announced on Monday that the country would welcome back foreign students, skilled workers and working holiday visa holders from next month. This is’“a new step forward for Australia”, commented M.me Andrews.

Twenty months after the closure of the Australian borders, certain foreigners will be able to enter the territory from 1er december. With this new decision, in addition to Australian citizens, visa holders and citizens of Japan, South Korea and Singapore will now be able to travel to the country with only a negative test result before departure if they are vaccinated. However, some Australian states still require quarantine upon entry.

According to Universities Australia, which represents the university sector, 130,000 international students are still out of the country. “They want nothing more than to join their classmates in Australia”said group chief executive Catriona Jackson, who called the decision a” excellent news “.

Scott Morrison’s government lifted overseas travel restrictions for Australians last month, but it had adamantly refused to ease restrictions for foreigners. The decision had blocked about 1.4 million qualified visa holders on the island-mainland, with no possibility of returning if they decided to leave the country.

No indication has yet been given as to the reopening of the country to tourism; a blow for the hard-hit sector, with the number of visitors having practically fallen to zero since the borders were closed in March 2020.

The World with AFP

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