New Zealand extends national lockdown

Wellington: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Friday announced that the ongoing top level 4 national lockdown will be extended until 11.59 p.m. on August 24.

The announcement came after 11 new Covid-19 cases of the Delta variant in the community, bringing the total number of infections associated with the current Auckland community outbreak to 31, reports Xinhua news agency.

“We just don’t quite know the full scale of this Delta outbreak,” Ardern told reporters here.

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All new cases have or are being transferred safely to a managed isolation facility under strict infection prevention and control procedures, including the use of full PPE, according to the Ministry of Health.

Of the 11 new cases, eight are in Auckland and three in Wellington, the first time this community outbreak seen out of Auckland.

The three in Wellington had recently travelled to Auckland and visited a location of interest there, said a Ministry statement.

Among the 31 total cases, 19 cases are now confirmed as part of the Auckland outbreak, with the remaining 12 under investigation to confirm the linkage to the outbreak.

Initial assessment shows most cases have a plausible link, it said.

The Auckland cluster is linked to the Sydney outbreak in Australia – a returnee from Sydney who arrived in Auckland on a flight on August 7 tested positive for the Delta variant.

Five of the newly reported cases on Friday are from family bubbles of previously confirmed cases, according to the Ministry.

Covid was also detected in wastewater samples collected on Wednesday from the Waitakere area in Auckland, it said, adding testing is in progress for a number of samples.

More higher risk locations have been identified by public health staff as they are currently engaged in contact tracing work, it said.

New Zealand has moved to the top level 4 national lockdown from midnight Tuesday after the first identified Delta case in the Auckland community.

Under the Alert Level 4 lockdown, businesses and schools are closed except for essential ones such as supermarkets, pharmacies and service stations.

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