New Zealand Coronavirus News: Lockdown Once Again Extended, COVID-19 Cluster Cases Swells To 101 And Still Growing
New Zealand Coronavirus News
: New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday extended a lockdown in New Zealand's largest city, saying more time was needed to ensure a stubborn cluster of coronavirus infections was under control.
She also imposed mandatory mask wearing on public transport across the nation.
She said stay-at-home orders would remain in place across Auckland until at least late Sunday, instead of restrictions easing late Wednesday as originally planned.
She added, "These extra four days are believed necessary to allow us to move down a level in Auckland, and stay down. We want both confidence and certainty for everyone."
The city’s step down from Level 3 to Level 2 restrictions will be made gradually from Monday, she added.
The city of Auckland went into lockdown on August 12, a day after the virus re-emerged in the city, ending New Zealand's record of 102 days without community transmission.
The new cluster has since grown from four to 101 and its source remains unknown, despite extensive genome testing and contact tracing.
Health authorities said more cases were likely and experts needed to confirm the cluster was contained before changing the lockdown settings.
Ardern said even when the Auckland restrictions are eased, the entire country could remain at Level Two, the second-lowest rating on New Zealand's four-tier virus alert system.
In order to maintain control as Auckland eases down to Level 2 restrictions, which will allow schools and shops to reopen, public gatherings will still be restricted to a maximum of 10 people, Ms Ardern said.
However the rest of the country will remain at Level 2 restrictions, but with the broader limit of up to 100 people at public gatherings.
This implies social distancing and limits on mass gatherings until at least Sunday, September 6.
The country had suppressed the virus with a strict seven-week lockdown earlier this year and its re-emergence has forced the country's general election to be pushed back to October 17 from September 19.
New Zealand, which has a population of about 5 million, has so far recorded just over 1,300 Covid-19 cases, including 22 deaths.
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