New Zealand is preparing for the largest outbreak of the Coronavirus to date, with the number of cases and areas of interest increasing to more than 400, and the number of close contacts expanded to more than 15,700 people.
The country recorded 41 new positive cases on Tuesday, bringing the total to 148 – mostly Samoans, and linked to a subgroup that met at the Lord’s Assembly Church in Mangere, Auckland before the closure.
The nationwide Level 4 lockdown – the highest notch – has been extended until at least the end of the week, as the state struggles to contain a delta-variable outbreak.
Auckland, the largest city in the country, where the majority of cases were detected – will remain shut until the end of the month.
Of the 41 new cases, 38 are in Auckland, and 3 are in Wellington. Of the total of 148 cases, 89 are epidemiologically linked to the Auckland cluster, the rest are still under investigation but likely linked because they were either household contacts or were at a site with contamination.
There are eight people in hospital with the virus, but no one is in intensive care.
The Director-General of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield, said dealing with a delta variant is like dealing with an entirely new virus. ” It is, as we know, highly contagious and transmissible, and as we have seen it spreads rapidly” she explained.
This reinforced “how important it is” for people to follow the rules of Level 4 insurance, Bloomfield said.
Earlier, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the increase in cases was “not unexpected “.