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New Zealand government maintains “let it rip” policy despite worsening crisis in hospitals

The disastrous situation in New Zealand’s hospitals continues to worsen, with ongoing deaths from COVID-19, growing hospitalizations for influenza and other winter illnesses, and a severe staffing shortage.

Yesterday, another 17 people died with COVID, including a child under 10 years of age. A total of 362 people were in hospital with the virus.

Altogether, the Ministry of Health has recorded 1,432 COVID-related deaths. All but 59 of these occurred in 2022, during the highly infectious Omicron wave, and as a direct result of the Labor Party-led government’s criminal decision last October to end its zero COVID policy.

The government put the demands of big business for a return to work ahead of protecting the health and lives of the population. No lockdowns have been implemented this year, the border has fully reopened, vaccine mandates have been scrapped, and schools and nonessential businesses are open.

According to the Worldometer website, New Zealand recorded 14 deaths per million people in the last seven days. This is the sixth-highest rate in the world, surpassed only by Taiwan, Portugal and three Caribbean island countries.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern answers a question during a press conference at Parliament in Wellington, New Zealand. (Robert Kitchin/Pool Photo via AP)

On June 20, Radio NZ’s Corin Dann asked Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern whether she was considering reintroducing measures such as mandatory masks in schools, “given the pressures on ED [hospital emergency departments]the ongoing deaths, the ongoing hospitalizations.”

In response, Ardern defended the present settings, which amount to a policy of mass infection. She noted that the government had eased public health restrictions when the COVID hospitalization rate was even higher than it is now. She added that, in some hospitals, flu is now “a greater cause of respiratory hospitalization than COVID-19.”

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