New Zealand reported 104 new coronavirus infections on Saturday, including the first community case of the virus in the country’s South Island in nearly a year, health officials said.
Most of the new infection reports are in Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city that has been under a strict lockdown for more than two months. Looser restrictions are in place in most of the rest of the country of 5 million.
The risks of a further spread from the case reports in Blenheim, in the northeast of the South Island, remained low, health officials said, with the person likely in the late stage of infection.
“So far, initial case interviews have identified a small number of close contacts, who have been in contact and are currently isolating with tests.” The health ministry said in a statement.
On Friday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that New Zealand will end its strict lockdown measures and restore more freedoms only when 90% of its eligible population is vaccinates. As of Saturday, 70% of those eligible were fully inoculating.
Once the poster child for stamping out COVID-19, New Zealand has been unable to beat an outbreak of the highly infectious Delta variant of COVID-19 centres in Auckland, forcing Ardern to abandon her elimination strategy and switch to living with the virus.
The number of cases in the current outbreak reached 2,492 and New Zealand has recorded 28 coronavirus-related deaths so far in the pandemic.
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