New Zealand further extends lockdown for its largest city as it battles Delta variant
- New Zealand has extended a strict Covid-19 lockdown for residents of Auckland, its largest city.
- Auckland will be kept at the highest level of pandemic alert for two more weeks.
- Case data suggests that the strict lockdown is curbing the spread.
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New Zealand has again extended a strict Covid-19 lockdown for Auckland, its largest city, as it battles to contain an outbreak of the highly infectious Delta variant.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Monday that Auckland would remain at alert level 4, the highest level of pandemic alert, for a further two weeks.
The rest of New Zealand is expected to move to alert level 3 late Tuesday, allowing people to travel locally and meet with family outside of their household.
The latest outbreak is the first New Zealand has seen in six months.
Ardern announced on August 17 that the entire country was moving to alert level 4, which requires affected people to stay at home and mix only with household members. The nationwide lockdown was later extended to August 31.
Case data suggests that the lockdown is working. New Zealand reported 53 new community cases Monday, down from 83 on Sunday and 82 on Saturday. The latest outbreak has seen 562 reported cases altogether.
"The job is not yet done and we do need to keep going," Ardern said.
If the country had not moved into lockdown two weeks ago, daily case numbers would have risen to around 550, Ardern said.
New Zealand faces possible vaccine shortage
Vaccination in New Zealand has been slow, with only 26.7% of the population fully vaccinated, according to official data.
The country has been attempting to speed up the vaccine rollout in recent weeks and is seeing increasing demand, but the government is now facing a supply issue.
Ardern said New Zealand should be able to stick to its vaccination plan.
"Our planning has been for the programme to administer 350,000 doses per week," she said, per Radio New Zealand. "We have the supply and infrastructure to do this sustainably over a long period of time."