Jacinda Ardern has extended New Zealand’s tough Covid lockdown until at least the end of the week, with Auckland set to live under stay-at-home restrictions even longer.
The nation, which has had limited coronavirus cases since the pandemic began, has seen its shock outbreak grow to 107 cases after the Delta strain slipped in from a returning traveller from Covid-ravaged Sydney.
Kiwi residents will only be allowed to leave home for essential work, grocery shopping, exercise or giving or receiving healthcare, with the measures set to remain in place until 11.59pm this Friday, she said.
Auckland, which is at the heart of the latest outbreak, will be subject to the restrictions until at least August 31.
Concern is now growing in the city after an outbreak at the Auckland University of Technology lead to seven infections.
Jacinda Ardern (pictured) has extended New Zealand’s tough Covid lockdown until at least the end of the week, with Auckland at the centre of the outbreak set to live under stay-at-home restrictions even longer
New Zealand’s outbreak has grown to 107 cases after the Delta strain slipped in from a returning traveller from Covid-ravaged Sydney.
Ms Ardern says the ‘go hard, go early’ strategy remains the most effective way to eliminate the virus until vaccination rates provide the population with more protection.
‘We can only look at what’s best for us and we know an elimination strategy has worked for New Zealand before,’ Ardern said.
‘Six days into the outbreak, we are building a picture of Delta’s spread.
‘There remain a number of unanswered questions, and with Delta more certainty is needed.’
‘Delta had a head start on us and we needed to catch up.’
New Zealand and Australia have seen very few Covid cases per capita, one of the benefits of pursuing ‘zero Covid’ policies – despite leaving multi-billion dollar holes in their economies
There were 35 locally-acquired cases on Monday with 33 in Auckland and two in Wellington. Pictured: Health workers in Christchurch on Sunday
There were 35 locally-acquired cases on Monday with 33 in Auckland and two in Wellington.
Of most concern to contact tracers is a cluster at AUT after three more positive cases brought the total number of transmission to seven, plus an additional close contact who attends West Auckland’s Green Bay High School.
‘Though there is no confirmed information about whether three of these people were on campus during their infectious period,’ and AUT spokesperson said.
It is known however that the student at Green Bay High School was infectious while at school for all of last week, sending 1,350 students into isolation.
‘Our thoughts are with our student and their family,’ the school said on social media.
The streets of Wellington in New Zealand are mostly quiet with the city now in lockdown
Meanwhile, New Zealand’s Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins warned Kiwis not to be like their rule-breaking friends in Australia, where rampant spread of the virus has seen cases climb to almost 900 infections a day nationwide.
‘Delta is here and it is trying to move fast,’ COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said.
‘You just need to look across to our friends in Australia to see how people flouting the rules can continue to drive transmission.
‘The last thing we want to see is post-lockdown transmission.
‘But we’ve beaten Covid-19 before and we can do it again if we all continue to play our part.’
Jacinda Ardern (left) and Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield (right) make the tough call to keep New Zealand in lockdown on Monday
It has been exactly one month since Ms Ardern popped the trans-Tasman travel bubble with Australia after a flurry of cases Down Under.
The Kiwi leader was asked whether she should have closed it earlier with cases now on the rise in New Zealand and mystery still surrounding some transmissions.
‘The bubble was closed at the time that this occurred,’ Ms Ardern said in reference to the return traveller who sparked the latest outbreak on August 7.
‘It just shows that ultimately this is still a very hard virus.’
‘The decisions were made with the best information possible. But as this virus has changed, we had to.’