New Zealand extended the national Covid-19 lockdown on Friday as the number of cases continued to rise and a Delta variant outbreak spread from Auckland to the capital Wellington.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the initial three-day lockdown, which would have expired overnight Friday, would be extended for another four days.
She said New Zealand was still trying to assess the scale of the outbreak, which emerged in Auckland this week, ending the country’s six-month period without community transmission.
“We just don’t know the full extent of this Delta outbreak. Overall this tells us that we have to continue to be careful, ”she said.
Ardern said all of the cases, including Wellington’s, were linked, which is less of a concern.
“This is important because it means that we are starting to build a picture of the edges of this cluster,” she said.
“At this point, we don’t have any random cases that crop up. “
New Zealand has received widespread praise for its response to the coronavirus, which focuses on eliminating the virus in the community rather than confining it, and has recorded just 26 deaths out of a population of five million. .
But its vaccine rollout has been less stellar, with only about 20 percent of the population fully vaccinated.
The New Zealand outbreak has been traced to a traveler who returned from Sydney earlier this month, although it is not clear how the virus bypassed quarantine containment in the community.
© 2021 AFP