On Friday, authorities reported 70 new COVID-19 cases in the biggest one-day jump from the latest outbreak, all in the city of Auckland, where the total number of cases is now 347.
as a response, Jacinda Ardern He extended the nationwide lockdown until August 31, while the hardest-hit areas of Auckland and Northland will remain at Level 4 closed beyond that date.
New Zealand has been largely virus-free, with the exception of a small number of cases in February, but questions have been raised about the slow pace of vaccination implementation in the country and the reliance on lockdowns amid the rising cases.
Jacinda Ardern has extended the nationwide lockdown until August 31, while the hardest-hit areas of Auckland and Northland will remain in level 4 lockdown beyond that date.
The latest numbers are the highest since last April of last year when 89 new daily cases were recorded
The latest numbers are the highest since last April of last year when 89 new daily cases were recorded.
Ardern said the outbreak could be peaking: “We may see the beginning of a plateau of cases, but caution is still required.”
Although the rest of the country except for Auckland and Northland will drop to Level 3 restrictions from September 1, this still means businesses can only operate for online orders and contactless services, and bars and restaurants will remain closed.
Public places will also remain closed, while the number of people at weddings and funerals is limited to 10 people.
Ardern acknowledged before her announcement that nearly two million people residing in neighboring Auckland and Northland would remain in the fourth level of full lockdown, possibly for another two weeks.
Ardern’s strict lockdown and international border closures in March 2020 helped curb Covid, but the government now faces questions about delaying a vaccine rollout, as well as rising costs in a country that relies heavily on an immigrant workforce.
Only 21% of the country’s 5.1 million people have been fully vaccinated, the slowest pace among the rich countries in the OECD group.
New Zealand’s Covid cases hit record levels on Friday despite the country’s harsh lockdown measures
Although the rest of the country except for Auckland and Northland will drop to Level 3 restrictions from September 1, this still means widespread business closures, restrictions on public gatherings and very little freedom of movement.
The chief executive of the Canterbury Chamber of Employers, Lynne Watson, said the extension of the lockdown was “disappointing”.
“While the government has to weigh any decision making with the impact on public health, the reality is that ongoing shutdowns cannot be part of our long-term future,” Watson said.
Opposition leader Judith Collins said earlier this week: At a time when New Zealanders are suffering one of the harshest lockdowns in the world and have lost our freedoms due to the government’s failure to vaccinate and secure borders, [the lockdown extension] By Jacinda Ardern Unfathomable.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who has overseen similar harsh lockdowns in response to relatively few cases, said of New Zealand’s approach: ‘Any state and territory that thinks they can somehow protect themselves from Covid with the Delta strain forever, that’s just ridiculous. .
‘I mean, New Zealand can’t do that. They were following the elimination strategy. They are in closed position. The way through this is to get to the (vaccination) marks of 70 percent and 80 percent and open them safely.
People wait in line outside a vaccination clinic in the Sydney suburb of Bankstown, which is seeing record cases
New Zealand recorded another 70 community cases on Friday. Pictured: The usually crowded Arras Tunnel lies empty in Wellington
Meanwhile, the Australian federal government is looking to pressure states to stick to the national reopening plan once the country reaches a 70-80% vaccination rate, including a tiered back-to-school plan from late October.
About 31 percent of people over 16 years of age have been fully vaccinated, while 54 percent have received at least one dose.
The national government, a group of federal and state leaders, met on Friday to discuss plans against the backdrop of concerns in some states given that Sydney’s daily infections continued to rise even after two months of lockdown.
New South Wales reported 882 new cases, most of them in the state capital Sydney, down from a record 1,029 on Thursday as officials struggle to stem the delta outbreak.
An empty stadium at Frank Kitts Park during the closure of Level 4 in Wellington, New Zealand
Police impose fines on Sydney residents who don’t comply with tight lockdown restrictions