New Zealand says fall in COVID-19 cases shows Delta lockdown working | Inquirer News
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New Zealand says fall in COVID-19 cases shows Delta lockdown working

/ 12:58 PM September 02, 2021
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People queue up for takeaway food as a nationwide coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lockdown eases in Wellington, New Zealand, September 1, 2021, REUTERS

WELLINGTON — New Zealand reported a drop in new COVID-19 infections on Thursday, which authorities said was a sign that a nationwide lockdown was helping to limit spread of the infectious Delta variant.

Barring a few cases in February, New Zealand had been largely free of coronavirus until the Delta outbreak prompted Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to order the snap lockdown last month.

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Authorities reported 49 new infections in the outbreak epicenter of Auckland, a fall from 75 on Wednesday, taking the tally to 736.

“The latest lower number is encouraging and does show that our alert level 4 lockdown is working, even against Delta,” the Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield told a news conference.

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Of the 42 people in hospital infected with Delta, six were in intensive care units (ICU) and three on ventilation, he added.

About 2 million people in the largest city of Auckland and the neighbouring Northland region remain in strict level 4 lockdown, but authorities have eased curbs elsewhere.

“Our case numbers are moving around … that’s not unusual,” Ardern told the news conference. “The important thing is we are seeing some positive trends.”

Northland will drop to alert level 3 from midnight, Ardern said, bringing it in line with the rest of the country.

Ardern’s lockdowns and international border closure since March 2020 have been credited with reining in COVID-19, largely freeing up day-to-day activities from curbs.

But the government faces questions over a delayed vaccine rollout, as well as rising costs in a country heavily reliant on an immigrant workforce.

Just over a quarter of the population of 5.1 million has been fully vaccinated, the slowest pace among the wealthy nations of the OECD grouping.

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