Wellington, Dec 18 : The New Zealand government has set aside extra funding to support the health system’s coronavirus response and to maintain quarantine facilities up to June 2022, Minister for Covid-19 Response Chris Hipkins said on Friday.
“We are committed to continuing our sustained approach of keeping COVID-19 out, preparing for it, and stamping it out, for as long as it takes, and have funded that for another 18 months if needed,” Xinhua news agency quoted Hipkins as saying in a statement.
“As we move into 2021 there are exciting developments on the vaccine and safe travel zone fronts. But we also need our health system to have sufficient capacity and support to maintain effective levels of contact tracing and testing, and for managed isolation and quarantine facilities to be fully resourced for our overall elimination strategy to work,” he added.
Funding agreed by Cabinet will pay for a series of Covid-19-related health activities to June 2022, including maintaining up to 7,000 tests a day, contact tracing, supplies of PPE (personal protective equipment) and supporting technology, among others.
With much-improved testing, contact tracing and border control now in place, the government is in a position to consolidate and strengthen administration and governance of the response, Hipkins said.
“This is increasingly essential to meet the added complexity of keeping New Zealanders safe, implementing the biggest immunization program in our history, while further stimulating the economy and managing a staged opening of our borders,” he said.
Meanwhile, more small businesses will be eligible to take out interest-free loans under changes announced on Friday to a government cash-flow scheme on combating economic impacts of the pandemic.
Revenue Minister David Parker said one of the government’s top economic priorities was to extend the Small Business Cashflow Loan scheme to three years and extend the interest-free period to two years.
As of Friday, New Zealand’s overall coronavirus caseload and death toll stood at 2,110 and 25 deaths, respectively.
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