In an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19 and ease pressure on the nation’s health system, which is dealing with an inflow of COVID and influenza patients, the New Zealand Government on Thursday announced free masks and rapid antigen testing.
The number of new COVID cases in New Zealand has significantly increased over the last few of weeks, and experts are predicting that this wave of Omicron may be worse than the first.
The hospital system is already dealing with increased wait times and surgery cancellations.
Ayesha Verrall, Minister for CovidVID-19 Response, stated in a statement that “there is no doubt that the combination of a spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, the worst flu season in recent memory, and corresponding staff absences are putting health workers and the entire health system under extreme pressure.”
With 68,737 people presently infected with the virus, New Zealand, which has a population of 5.1 million, reported 11,382 new cases of COVID on Thursday. In hospitals right now are 765 of those cases.
The government is extending access to free masks and testing, enabling pharmacists to offer COVID medications, and changing the eligibility requirements for antiviral drugs.
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