NEW Zealand’s government is not “willing to accept” an England-style strategy of “living with” coronavirus, the country’s Covid-19 response minister has said.

Speaking at a press conference alongside prime minister Jacinda Ardern, Chris Hipkins said the level of deaths expected in England as Boris Johnson lifts the majority of restrictions would be “unacceptable”.

The pair were asked about Johnson’s scrapping of masks and social distancing from July 19, and insistence that “we must reconcile ourselves, sadly, to more deaths from Covid”.

The UK Health Secretary has also said cases could reach 100,000 per day after rules are abandoned on July 19.

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“That’s not something that we have been willing to accept in New Zealand,” Hipkins told reporters.

“One of the things the UK Government have been very clear about [is] that there will be a spike in cases, potentially thousands of cases a day. There will be more people dying.

“We are likely to see more incremental change than dramatic change where we wake up one morning and say: ‘We just go back to the way things were before Covid-19.’”

Ardern was diplomatic when asked whether New Zealand would accept coronavirus deaths, saying “different countries are taking different choices”.

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She added: “The priority for me is how do we continue to preserve what New Zealand has managed to gain and give ourselves options, because this virus is not done with the world yet.”

New Zealand’s director-general of health said today that the country is watching the UK closely, and warned of a no-fly-list placement if cases grow significantly.

New Zealand has recorded just 2763 coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic and 26 deaths. A strict approach to borders and quarantine is cited as a large part of their success in approaching the crisis.