New Zealand will retain its nationwide lockdown for another four days, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, warning that officials don’t know the full scope of the current Covid-19 outbreak after 11 new infections were confirmed.
The prime minister announced the extended lockdown order on Friday, telling reporters that her administration wants “the whole country on high alert right now” as a cluster of cases spotted in the city of Auckland continues to grow.
“We just don’t quite know the full scale of this Delta outbreak,” Ardern said at a press conference, referring to a more contagious mutation of the coronavirus.
Of the 11 new infections reported on Friday, three were detected in Wellington, the national capital, according to the health ministry, which added that the three patients traveled to Auckland recently and visited locations already thought to have been exposed to the virus.
The current outbreak has reached a total of 31 confirmed cases since the first infection was observed earlier this week, with health officials suggesting it was originally imported from the Australian state of New South Wales.
Ardern initially rolled out a “snap” lockdown on Tuesday after just a single infection was confirmed, imposing the harshest ‘level four’ restrictions across the country. It was first supposed to last three days for most of New Zealand, and a week in Auckland, but will now expire on August 24, barring any further extensions. Health chief Ashley Bloomfield has already warned the measures in Auckland could go on longer, however.
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