New Zealand faces first Covid-19 delta variant lockdown

Sydney, Australia, Aug 18 (EFE).- New Zealand, which confined its more than 5 million residents after detecting a case of Covid-19, faces its first delta variant outbreak after totalling 10 local infections Wednesday.

“Last night’s results confirmed it is the delta variant and that it is linked, via genomic sequence, to infections from the New South Wales outbreak (the epicenter of the third wave of covid-19 in Australia),” New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told reporters in Wellington.

Ardern, praised worldwide for her Covid-19 management, ordered Tuesday a three-day confinement in the country, although those in Auckland and the neighboring Coromandel peninsula will be confined for seven days.

This drastic and early measure was adopted after detecting, for the first time in almost six months, the contagion of an Auckland resident, who traveled to Coromandel over the weekend with Covid-19.

Since, nine more infections have been reported, including someone who works in a hospital in Auckland, which has 1.7 million inhabitants and is the country’s most populous city, although experts believe 50 to 120 people could have been infected prior to confinement.

New Zealand Police reported three small protests against confinement measures Wednesday in Auckland, Tauranga and Nelson, resulting in the arrest of eight people.

The Cook Islands government suspended for 72 hours the quarantine-free travel bubble with New Zealand, which has recorded 2,580 Covid-19 cases and another 56 probable ones, including 26 deaths and a quarantine of active cases, almost all in quarantine centers.

New Zealand authorities last week accelerated their vaccination campaign, which began in February with border workers and began inoculating Pfizer doses to the general population at the end of July.

The government intends to finish vaccinating people before the end of the year to reopen its borders, which closed in March 2020, starting in the first quarter of 2021 through a tailored plan that weighs the risk of the traveler’s departure point and immunization status. EFE


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