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New Zealand's PM Hopes to Avoid Future Lockdowns

Αssociated Press

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern reacts as she talks with colleagues at a cafe in Auckland, New Zealand, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she doesn’t want to use lockdowns in the future and sees vaccinations as the “golden ticket” to navigating the pandemic.

Her remarks came as Auckland remained in a sixth week of lockdown following an outbreak of the coronavirus’ delta variant.

New Zealand has taken an unusual zero-tolerance approach to the virus and is trying to completely eliminate the outbreak in its largest city through drastic measures, at least until vaccination rates improve. Fifteen more local transmissions were reported Thursday.

Ardern says she sees a hopeful path in using vaccinations coupled with public health measures to prevent widespread hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19. About 62% of New Zealanders have had at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine.