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New Zealand extends coronavirus lockdown amid Delta variant outbreak

Written by on 23/08/2021

New Zealand’s nationwide coronavirus lockdown has been extended until the end of the week.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said more certainty is needed about the highly transmissible Delta variant of coronavirus.

“The safest option for all of us right now is to hold the course for longer,” Ms Ardern said at a news conference. “If the world has taught us anything it is to be cautious with this variant of COVID-19.”

More certainty is needed about the highly transmissible Delta variant, Jacinda Ardern says
Image: More certainty is needed about the highly transmissible Delta variant, Jacinda Ardern says

New Zealand‘s level 4 national lockdown has been extended by three days until midnight on 27 August, while Auckland, the epicentre of the latest outbreak, will have restrictions until at least 31 August.

Ms Ardern also said the current outbreak of the Delta variant had not yet peaked.

She said there had been more than 320 locations of interest linked to the outbreak and 13,000 contacts recorded – far more than previous outbreaks.

“Delta has changed the rules of the game,” she added.

More on Covid-19

New Zealand reported 35 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the number of current infections to 107.

The health ministry said 33 new cases are in the largest city, Auckland, while two are in the capital Wellington.

Streets were empty during Wellington's lockdown, 20 August
Image: Streets were empty during Wellington’s lockdown on 20 August

The discovery of a single new coronavirus case last week was all it took to put the country back into a nationwide lockdown.

Critics have questioned the speed of New Zealand’s vaccine rollout, which until the latest outbreak was the slowest among the wealthy OECD nations, with only a fifth of the population fully vaccinated.

On Sunday, the country’s COVID-19 response minister, Chris Hipkins, said about a million people have been fully vaccinated.

More than 50,000 vaccine doses were given on Saturday.

“We continue to deliver incredible numbers we can be proud of,” Mr Hipkins said.

New Zealand has recorded just 2,660 confirmed coronavirus cases since the beginning of the pandemic, along with 26 deaths, according to the health ministry.

 Sky News

© Sky News 2020

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