New Zealand has highest jump in COVID-19 cases since April 2020

New Zealand on Tuesday reported its highest increase in COVID-19 cases since April 2020, but officials said the numbers were not rising rapidly and most cases were still concentrated in Auckland where the outbreak recently began, Reuters reports.

The South Pacific nation’s virus-free run since February came to an end last week after an outbreak of the highly contagious Delta variant in New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland, and quickly spread to the capital, Wellington.

Officials reported 41 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 148, director general of health chief Ashley Bloomfield said at a news conference. According to a graphic on the website of the Ministry of Health, these are the newest cases since April 2020.

Of the new cases, 38 are in Auckland and three in Wellington.

“It is reassuring that we are not seeing an exponential increase,” Bloomfield said, with most cases reported in Auckland, indicating that infections were not widespread.

However, the health ministry said in a statement later on Tuesday that it would not be unexpected to see an increase in the number of daily cases at this stage of the outbreak, and New Zealand had a total of 89 new cases last year.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has garnered global praise for stamping out COVID-19 in the country.

But, their reliance on strict border controls and snap lockdowns that hit the economy have been called into question amid the latest outbreak, which has left few people vaccinated.

On Monday, Ardern extended the strict Level 4 national lockdown by three days until midnight on 27 August, while restrictions in Auckland will remain in place until at least 31 August.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson said the government has enough money to deal with the latest outbreak and the economy has been “incredibly resilient”.

“A strong public health response is still the best economic response,” he told the news conference.


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