Auckland lockdown to remain as number of new virus cases rises

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New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland, will remain in a COVID-19 lockdown for another 12 days, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Friday.

 

The country on Friday reported another 13 new coronavirus infections, as number of cases in the community continued to grow.

Health officials could link 12 of the new cases to a family in Auckland, who tested positive on Tuesday.

The remaining case, who was currently in hospital, had no known links to the cluster so far.

Auckland schools and non-essential businesses were made to close on Wednesday, with the restrictions due to expire at midnight on Friday (1200 GMT).

However, Ardern said restrictions would now remain in place until Aug. 26 as officials worked to contain the outbreak.

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“Lifting restrictions now and seeing an explosion of new cases is the worst thing we could do for Auckland and our economy,’’ Ardern said at a press conference.

The rest of the country would remain under lighter restrictions, with gatherings of more than 100 people banned.

The new restrictions will affect New Zealand Super Rugby, with the final game of the season called off and an earlier match in the South Island, to go ahead with no crowd.

The prime minister warned the number of cases would continue to grow.

“We can expect to see more cases as part of this cluster.

“It will grow before it slows.’’

All positive cases and their families would be transferred to quarantine facilities to reduce the risk of transmission in the community, Director-General of Health, Ashley Bloomfield, said.

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The source of the initial outbreak had not yet been determined, Bloomfield said.

The country has reported a total of 1,251 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new virus, with 22 deaths since the outbreak began.

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