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Australia’s top health official denounces Jacinda Ardern’s coronavirus strategy, calling it ‘dangerous’

Australia’s top health official says New Zealand’s decision to lift coronavirus restrictions after seemingly crushing the disease was dangerous.

Acting Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said the return to a pre-pandemic life had left the country in a vulnerable position.

“That’s just very dangerous,” he told the Senate coronavirus investigation on Friday.

‘To go straight back to a pre-COVID state, they are extremely vulnerable.’

Australia's top health official says New Zealand's decision to lift coronavirus restrictions after seemingly crushing the disease was dangerous (photo: a nurse tests people on Covid-19 at the Otara city center testing facility on August 14 2020 in Auckland, New Zealand)

Australia’s top health official says New Zealand’s decision to lift coronavirus restrictions after seemingly crushing the disease was dangerous (photo: a nurse tests people on Covid-19 at the Otara city center testing facility on August 14 2020 in Auckland, New Zealand)

Australia's top health official says New Zealand's decision to lift coronavirus restrictions after seemingly crushing disease was dangerous (pedestrians wearing face masks walk down Lambton Quay ahead of a COVID-19 Alert Level announcement on August 14, 2020 in Wellington, New Zealand

Australia's top health official says New Zealand's decision to lift coronavirus restrictions after seemingly crushing disease was dangerous (pedestrians wearing face masks walk down Lambton Quay ahead of a COVID-19 Alert Level announcement on August 14, 2020 in Wellington, New Zealand

Face mask pedestrians walk down Lambton Quay ahead of a COVID-19 Alert Level announcement on August 14, 2020 in Wellington, New Zealand

Professor Kelly said the new New Zealand outbreak, which has spread to 30 people, has shown why high-performing Australian states need to remain vigilant.

“What happened in New Zealand is a real demonstration of why we have to remain cautious,” he said.

Auckland has returned to lockdown and social distance measures have been reintroduced in other parts of the country.

Prof Kelly said New Zealand’s initial hard closure had major economic repercussions but was successful.

He believes the government should have restricted mass rallies and continued to implement other physical distance measures.

On Thursday, the NZ Deputy Prime Minister claimed the new coronavirus outbreak had spread to the community following a ‘breach’ in the quarantine system.

“It was not a civil servant, I found out elsewhere, but I think there was a breach in our quarantine system,” he told ABC 24 News.

The country had just marked 102 days of no community transfer when a string of new cases were discovered starting Tuesday.

Australia's Acting Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly addresses the media at a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra, Friday 14 August 2020

Australia's Acting Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly addresses the media at a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra, Friday 14 August 2020

Australia’s Acting Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly addresses the media at a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra, Friday 14 August 2020

Two Auckland companies have been linked to the new outbreak of the coronavirus in New Zealand so far

Two Auckland companies have been linked to the new outbreak of the coronavirus in New Zealand so far

Two Auckland companies have been linked to the new outbreak of the coronavirus in New Zealand so far

Mr. Peters said it is unlikely that an undetected strain of the virus is circulating in the population.

“I don’t know where this quarantine violation took place, but I think you can prevent it from being a new kind of COVID-19 that my country hadn’t seen until now,” he said.

However, a spokesman for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s office would not confirm the claims of quarantine violation.

On Friday, Ms. Ardern extended the country’s lockdown for an additional 12 days, with Auckland on Level 3 restrictions and the rest of the country on Level 2.

30 community cases of transmission have been discovered, mainly in Auckland, with a further 13 on Friday.

Meanwhile, a leading epidemiologist has said Australia’s strategy to suppress the coronavirus has also put the country in a vulnerable position.

Cars will queue at a COVID-19 testing center in Auckland, New Zealand on Thursday, where phase 3 restrictions are back in effect

Cars will queue at a COVID-19 testing center in Auckland, New Zealand on Thursday, where phase 3 restrictions are back in effect

Cars will queue at a COVID-19 testing center in Auckland, New Zealand on Thursday, where phase 3 restrictions are back in effect

Professor John Mathews, from the University of Melbourne, explained that Australia’s exclusion has left the population vulnerable to further outbreaks of the virus.

“As long as you have viruses, the risk of another wave will always be there,” Professor Mathews told Daily Mail Australia.

Professor Matthews is a former Chief of the National Center for Disease Control in Australia and former Deputy Chief Medical Officer of the Federal Government.

He said some countries in Europe, such as the UK, may have developed herd immunity – after being hit hard by the virus early on – which could prevent a second wave.

“We don’t believe everyone is infected, but enough people have been infected without getting symptoms to have built up some herd immunity.”

He said that, coupled with some scientists’ suggestion that some part of the population is not acceptable at all, this could mean that the UK pandemic is on the wane.

Australia, on the other hand, has not had a large number of population infections, which means that no immunity has been built up.

A barista at The Store in Kohimarama makes coffee as Auckland returns to level three lockdown on August 13, 2020 with 28 new COVID-19 suitcases in town

A barista at The Store in Kohimarama makes coffee as Auckland returns to level three lockdown on August 13, 2020 with 28 new COVID-19 suitcases in town

A barista at The Store in Kohimarama makes coffee as Auckland returns to level three lockdown on August 13, 2020 with 28 new COVID-19 suitcases in town

A cop in a mask gets his morning coffee from The Store in Kohimarama while Auckland wakes up to return to Stage Three lockdown (photo Thursday)

A cop in a mask gets his morning coffee from The Store in Kohimarama while Auckland wakes up to return to Stage Three lockdown (photo Thursday)

A cop in a mask gets his morning coffee from The Store in Kohimarama while Auckland wakes up to return to Stage Three lockdown (photo Thursday)

A man with a face mask is seen on Wednesday in central Auckland, New Zealand (photo)

A man with a face mask is seen on Wednesday in central Auckland, New Zealand (photo)

A man with a face mask is seen on Wednesday in central Auckland, New Zealand (photo)

“We still need to have the population that almost the entire population is susceptible to because only a small fraction has been exposed … So the virus can come back.”

“In Britain, we think if the virus comes back it will be just a small second wave of cleaning up those who weren’t exposed the first time.”

He said Australia’s extensive state of partial lockdown as we try to suppress the virus isn’t letting the economy recover, so we’re in a middle ground.

“Australia is currently in a situation where it is determined to keep the virus under control and the challenge is to do so without continuing to pay high economic costs.”

Professor Matthews said that eradication can also be unrealistic, as has been proven in New Zealand.

‘You can never find all cases because you can’t test everyone in the population on the same day to prove a negative result, so it’s always a challenge to move from where we are now.

He also warned that another danger is that people will tire of prolonged lockdowns and ignore large numbers of restrictions that cause larger outbreaks.

He said Australia’s challenge was to navigate these issues and find a way through which the economy and population can recover.

‘The young people in are the most disadvantaged because their education has been disrupted.’ he said.

“It’s important that people hope the future will improve, so we have to be optimistic.”

New Zealand records the first cases of community transmission of COVID-19 for 102 days

THE BUSINESS

* Four members of a family in south Auckland have tested positive for COVID-19.

* The ‘index case’ is a person in their 50s who has been symptomatic for five days and has no foreign travel history.

* Six family members received a rapid test on Tuesday evening; three tests came back positive and three are negative.

* A student at Mount Albert Grammar School in Auckland tested positive for COVID-19.

* Health authorities await test results for an additional four ‘probable’ cases of coronavirus – three adults and a teen – associated with a family cluster.

* Health officials relocate to isolate and test family contacts, including two workplaces in Auckland.

THE ANSWER

* Auckland returns to a ‘level three’ lockdown from 12 noon Wednesday to midnight Friday. Aucklanders are asked to stay at home except for essential work or essential needs.

* The rest of New Zealand will return to ‘level two’ for the same time frame, with limits for gatherings and the return of social detachment.

* These measures have been taken to give health officials time to test and isolate contacts and to locate the source of the outbreak.

* Every worker at NZ Border Regime and Managed Isolation Facility will also be tested in the coming days.

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