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Once the envy of the world for its handling of the pandemic, New Zealand is now preparing its health system for an influx of COVID-19 patients as it pivots away from its elimination strategy.

Health Ministry modeling forecasts more than 5,000 cases per week in the Auckland and Northland regions next year, even assuming 90% of the eligible population is vaccinated, Health Minister Andrew Little said on Thursday. The figure does not include the rest of the country, where modeling is still being conducted.

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