New Zealand reports 21 cases as Ardern warns of increase

WELLINGTON • New Zealand recorded 21 new cases of Covid-19 yesterday, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern warning that the number will go higher in the next few days and urging the Pacific nation to adhere to lockdown rules.

The infections in the community outbreak of the highly transmissible Delta variant now total 51. Of the 21 new cases, 18 are in the largest city, Auckland, and three in the capital, Wellington.

Public health director Caroline McElnay said all the infections were genomically linked to the first case reported in Auckland last Tuesday.

Ms Ardern on Friday extended the lockdown for the country of 5.1 million until midnight on Tuesday as the outbreak widened beyond the two key cities.

“One of the things that we’ve learnt from New South Wales is that the virus can continue to spread during lockdown,” she said of an outbreak in neighbouring Australia’s most populous state.

New South Wales logged a record 825 cases yesterday as a Delta outbreak surged.

“No one wants an extended lockdown and no one wants to see that rate of transmission, so the number one thing everyone can do right now is reduce down your contacts,” Ms Ardern said.

New Zealanders had been living virus-free and without curbs until Ms Ardern ordered what was initially a three-day nationwide lockdown and a seven-day shutdown for Auckland, after the discovery of the first case since February.

The country has recorded just over 2,600 confirmed coronavirus cases and 26 Covid-19 deaths, according to the health ministry.

Only 19 per cent of the population has been fully vaccinated, the slowest among the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development countries.


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