- Daily COVID-19 cases drop to 49 on Tuesday
- Prime Minister Ardern says nationwide lockdown is working
- Auckland will remain closed for another two weeks
- Police have set up checkpoints on the outskirts of Auckland
WELLINGTON (Reuters) – The New Zealand government announced on Tuesday that new cases of COVID-19 fell to 49 for the second day in a row amid a strict national lockdown in the latest outbreak this month.
With the exception of a small number of cases in February, New Zealand was essentially coronavirus-free for months, until the outbreak of the delta variant imported from Australia prompted Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to order a sudden national lockdown on August 17.
The total number of cases in the outbreak is 612, with 597 in New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland, and 15 in the capital Wellington.
The drop in the number of daily cases indicates that social restrictions are reducing the spread of the highly contagious delta variant, Ardern said at a press conference.
“We have the second day where our numbers are going down,” Ardern said. “We want the tail of this epidemic to be as short as possible. “
About 1.7 million Aucklanders will remain in a strict Level 4 lockdown for another two weeks, while restrictions for the rest of the country will ease slightly from Wednesday. Read more
Police have set up checkpoints on the outskirts of Auckland to ensure that non-essential movement within the city is not allowed.
Police also said on Tuesday they had arrested 19 people after an anti-containment protest across the country.
Chief Health Officer Ashley Bloomfield said 33 people have now been hospitalized following the latest outbreak in Delta, with eight cases in stable condition in intensive care.
“It makes sense to see six cases in the outbreak under one age,” he said.
But he added that the public health measures in place were slowing the spread of the virus and the number of cases would continue to decline.
Ardern’s closures, as well as international border closures from March 2020, have been credited with putting the brakes on COVID-19.
However, the government is now facing questions about the delay in rolling out a vaccine and rising costs in a country heavily dependent on immigrants.
Just over a quarter of the population has so far been fully immunized, the lowest rate among wealthy countries in the OECD group.
the reports of Praveen Menon; Editing by Tom Hogg and Christian Schmolinger
Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
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