COVID-19: Kiwis respond after Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison says New Zealand can't eliminate Delta

Kiwis have responded with anger and determination after Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison suggested New Zealand can't eliminate Delta from the community.

On Tuesday, Morrison told 9News New Zealand's elimination strategy - which has been effective in quashing all previous COVID-19 outbreaks here - was "absurd" in the face of the significantly more transmissible Delta variant.

"Any state and territory that thinks that somehow they can protect themselves from COVID with the Delta strain forever, that's just absurd," he said.

"New Zealand can't do that. They were following an elimination strategy. They're in lockdown. The way through is to get to those 70 percent and 80 percent marks [for vaccination] and open safely."

Morrison also likened employing an elimination strategy against the Delta strain to living in a cave.

"COVID is a new different world - we need to get out there and live in it. We can't stay in the cave, and we can get out of it safely," he said. "If not at 70 or 80 percent, then when?"

But Kiwis have rejected Morrison's defeatist assessment of the situation here, taking to social media to respond to his comments.

"I would like to personally thank Scott Morrison for ensuring 100 percent of Aotearoa now wants to smash Covid again, just to spite his Covid-loving ass," one Twitter user wrote.

Other Kiwis responded in kind.

"Just watch us Scott no mates, we will do it for us but also just to prove you wrong!" one said.

"I refuse to take advice on not "living in a cave" from a PM who's apparently living under a rock," tweeted another.

Some Kiwis implored Morrison to show more respect to his trans-Tasman allies, while others pointed to the All Blacks' demolition of Wallabies earlier this month for inspiration.

Morrison's criticism of New Zealand comes as Australia struggles to contain multiple COVID-19 outbreaks, with parts of the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales and Victoria in lockdown and national daily cases skyrocketing.

As a result he is facing increasing opposition from state premiers over the country's roadmap back to pre-pandemic life. Under the plan lockdown and restrictions would ease once 70-80 percent of the eligible population over 16 is vaccinated.

Morrison said when vaccination rates get to this point, COVID-19 can be managed like any other infectious disease. 

"We don't shut the country down because of the flu, we don't do that. We don't do it for other infectious diseases... You can manage this with some baseline element, common-sense measures so you can treat it like the flu and that's where we want to get - that's what living with COVID-19 is."

On Wednesday, Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield issued a scathing takedown of those peddling misinformation that COVID-19 is just like the flu, saying the data makes clear "it is a far more serious illness".

"Scotland, similar population [to New Zealand]," Dr Bloomfield said.  "If we had followed the route they had, we'd have had around 10,000 people die by now, in about 20 months. Annually, we have around 600 influenza-related deaths."

He says there's "a magnitude of difference" between the deadliness of COVID-19 and influenza.

"It is a far more serious illness - and even in the UK now, with the rates of infection they have with a high vaccination rate, it's the equivalent of around nine or 10 deaths a day in New Zealand."