New Zealand Kiwis back elimination as Delta cases drop
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Kiwis back elimination as Delta cases drop

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"We are starting to see some positive trends in the numbers," Jacinda Ardern says.
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New Zealand remains on a downwards trend in its COVID-19 outbreak, reporting just 49 cases.

On Thursday, Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield revealed the drop in cases from 75 cases on Wednesday.

Dr Bloomfield said there was a growing confidence the outbreak peaked last weekend, when daily cases reached 83, and the Delta variant was being brought under control.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said just seven of the 49 cases announced on Thursday were infectious in the community.

“The important thing is we are starting to see some positive trends in the numbers,” she said.

“Lockdown has stopped the exponential spread and there’s clear evidence our plan is making a difference.”

The outbreak totals 736 cases.

There are 42 Kiwis in hospital with the virus, and six in intensive care.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has also signalled the Northland region will move to a lesser lockdown from Friday.

Auckland, the heart of the outbreak, remains at the harsh level four settings, with the rest of the country at level three.

Despite the lockdown, which has reached day 16, Kiwis have signalled overwhelming support for New Zealand’s elimination strategy.

A poll conducted by Kantar and published by the NZ Herald showed 85 per cent of Kiwis supported the elimination goal, compared with 13 per cent who supported “living with” the virus.

Of that 85 per cent, 46 per cent supported elimination long-term, while 39 per cent supported elimination until 70 per cent of the population was vaccinated.

The support for elimination was largely consistent across demographic and regional breakdowns.

Showing the resilience of Aucklanders – in the middle of their fifth lockdown – 87 per cent of residents in New Zealand’s biggest city offered their support to elimination.

In recent days, senior Australian politicians have attacked the elimination goal.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has called enduring support of elimination “absurd” and on Wednesday, Treasurer Josh Frydenburg took aim.

With more than 100 cases on Wednesday in Victoria, Mr Frydenburg said elimination was out of reach.

“I welcome the acknowledgement in Victoria today that eliminating the Delta variant is an impossibility. It can’t be done. No other country has done it, and based on the best medical advice we have we can’t do it,” he said.

It remains to be seen whether New Zealand will prove the pair wrong.

New Zealand’s lockdown began after the identification of one case on August 17.

-AAP