New Zealand coronavirus outbreak spreads to South Island
October 23 (Reuters) – New Zealand reported 104 new coronavirus infections on Saturday, including the first community-based case of the virus in the country’s south island in nearly a year, health officials said.
Most of the new infections have been reported in Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city which has been strictly closed for more than two months. Softer restrictions are in place in most of the rest of the 5 million country. Read more
Risks of further spread of the reported case in Blenheim, in the northeast of the South Island, remained low, health officials said, with the person likely in the advanced stage of infection.
“So far, the first case interviews have identified a small number of close contacts, who have been contacted and are currently in isolation with organized testing,” the health ministry said in a statement.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Friday that New Zealand would end its strict lockdown measures and only restore freedoms when 90% of its eligible population were fully vaccinated. As of Saturday, 70% of eligible people had been fully vaccinated.
Once the COVID-19 eradication poster, New Zealand has been unable to defeat an outbreak of the highly infectious Delta variant of COVID-19 centered in Auckland, forcing Ardern to abandon its strategy of elimination and move on to life with the virus. Read more
The number of cases in the current outbreak has reached 2,492 and New Zealand has so far recorded 28 coronavirus-related deaths in the pandemic.
Reporting by Lidia Kelly; Editing by Kim Coghill
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