New Zealand extends Auckland lockdown in battle on Delta variant to further afield
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday that New Zealand's biggest city of Auckland will be locked down for two more weeks in the fight against the Delta strain of coronavirus, as the country pushes to increase vaccinations.
New Zealand is now fighting a Delta outbreak that has spread to Auckland and neighbouring regions despite severe lockdown and border closures.
Ardern said there would be no changes to the 62-day social restrictions, the toughest in the world's 34 leading economies, that have been in Auckland for 63 days.
"Any interim relaxation of restrictions... will not meet our goal of reducing cases while we increase vaccinations," Ardern told a news conference.
The most important thing that will make a difference right now, along with vaccines, is that everyone adheres to restrictions.
In mid-August, the city of 1.7 million people was locked down to prevent the outbreak.
Several curbs were eased to allow people to leave their homes and meet with loved ones outside in groups of 10 or allow visits to beaches and parks.
But schools, businesses, and offices remain closed and gatherings inside are not allowed.
With Monday's 60 new community infections, 57 in Auckland and three in the Waikato region, New Zealand'' tally of infections in New Zealand in this outbreak has risen to 2,005.
The Pacific nation was one of just a handful of countries to reach zero COVID-19 cases last year, remaining largely virus-free until the Delta outbreak in August frustrated efforts to limit transmission.
Amid mounting political pressure to reopen the country and its economy, Ardern switched from her tough elimination strategy to an example of learning to live with the virus, much like the rest of the world.