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NZ ditches COVID elimination strategy as delta sweeps

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New Zealand has dropped its COVID elimination strategy insisting the nation will learn to live with the virus

New Zealand officially abandoned its strategy of eliminating COVID-19 moving to ease some restrictions in the city of Auckland.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the nation will instead look to live with the virus while controlling its spread.

The Pacific nation was among just a handful of countries to bring COVID-19 cases down to zero last year and largely stayed virus-free until an outbreak of the highly infections Delta variant in mid-August frustrated efforts to stamp out transmission.

“With this outbreak and Delta the return to zero is incredibly difficult,”

Ardern told a news conference.

“This is a change in approach we were always going to make over time. Our Delta outbreak has accelerated this transition. Vaccines will support it,”

Health authorities reported 29 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, taking the total number in the current outbreak to 1,357.

The majority of the cases are in Auckland, which has been in lockdown for nearly 50 days

Amid mounting pressure, the Prime Minister has said her strategy was never to have zero cases, but to aggressively stamp out the virus.

Strict lockdowns will end once 90% of the eligible population is vaccinated

“It’s clear that a long period of heavy restrictions has not got us to zero cases. But its ok…elimination was important because we didn’t have vaccinations. Now we do. So we can begin to change the way we do things,”

Under new changes in Auckland, people will be able to leave their homes to connect with loved ones outdoors from Wednesday, with a limit of 10 people.

Qantas staff talk to passengers onboard a flight bound for Auckland on April 19.

New rules added to international arrivals:

The government also announced that all foreign nationals entering New Zealand will need to be fully vaccinated from November 1.

Travellers will have to declare their vaccination status when registering with the country’s isolation system and provide proof of vaccination or exemption to their airline and customs officers on landing, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said in a statement.

“To further reduce the possibility of the virus getting through our border, we are introducing the requirement for air travellers aged 17 and over, who are not New Zealand citizens, to be fully vaccinated to enter New Zealand,”

Hipkins said

Those arriving in New Zealand will still have to spend 14 days in quarantine, and all travelers, except for those coming from locations with an exemption, will still need  to show a negative Covid-19 test result within 72 hours of their first scheduled international flight. 

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China conducts ‘punishment’ war games near Taiwan

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China initiated military ‘punishment’ exercises in the waters surrounding Taiwan in response to the newly inaugurated President Lai Ching-te.

These drills come amid escalating tensions in the region, with Beijing asserting its sovereignty over Taiwan, denouncing the inauguration of President Lai Ching-te and labelling this one of several “separatist acts”, as reported by Reuters.

These military manoeuvres are seen as a show of force and a warning to Taiwan and its supporters against any moves perceived as challenging China’s territorial claims.

President Lai has repeatedly offered talks with China but has been rebuffed.

He says only Taiwan’s people can decide their future, and rejects Beijing’s sovereignty claims.

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Apple Music’s controversial top 10 albums of all time

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Apple Music has released its highly anticipated “100 Best Albums of All Time” list, with the top 10 rankings causing a bittersweet symphony of destruction for some music lovers.

The list was curated by a panel of experts and based on various factors including cultural impact, critical acclaim, and commercial success, with the aim to celebrate the most influential and timeless albums across genres.

As reported by the official Apple Music Newsroom blog post, the top ten best albums of all time are the following:

10. Lemonade (2016), Beyoncé

9. Nevermind (1991), Nirvana 

8. Back to Black (2006), Amy Winehouse

7. good kid, m.A.A.d city (2012), Kendrick Lamar

6. Songs in the Key of Life (1976), Stevie Wonder

5. Blonde (2016), Frank Ocean

4. Purple Rain (1984), Prince & The Revolution

3. Abbey Road (1969), The Beatles

2. Thriller (1982), Michael Jackson

1. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998), Lauryn Hill

In other news, Apple recently became the first company to hit a $3 trillion stock market value, before falling just below that milestone, as reported by Reuters.

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Leaders

Essential daily protein needs for better health

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Protein is a fundamental macronutrient essential for various bodily functions, including muscle repair, enzyme production, and immune system support.

Daily protein requirements can vary significantly based on factors such as activity levels, age, and gender.

To help unpack this topic, Kate Save from BeFitFood joins to share her key insights. #featured

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