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WASHINGTON -- New Zealand reported on Tuesday its first locally acquired coronavirus cases in more than 100 days. In response, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern immediately implemented new restrictions for the surrounding area, ordering non-essential businesses to close and people to stay home unless they need to conduct essential activities such as grocery shopping.
Matthew Wellington, the public health campaigns director for U.S. PIRG, issued the following statement in response to New Zealand’s new cases and restrictions.
“New Zealand’s leaders continue to do the right thing on COVID-19 response. Once the new cases emerged, Prime Minister Ardern re-instituted shutdowns to contain them, and thanks to the country’s robust testing and tracing programs it will probably be able to squash this isolated incident before it explodes into a new outbreak.
America’s decision makers should learn some important lessons from New Zealand’s leadership. We, too, need to shut down non-essential businesses and urge people to stay home to break the chains of virus transmission. We shouldn’t reopen until proper testing and contact tracing protocols are in place. Then, our leaders should always be ready to re-institute restrictions if needed.
There is no on and off switch for dealing with COVID-19. It will take diligent, steady leadership to save lives, and that means acting quickly and making hard decisions.”
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