Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced that the nationwide lockdown currently in place will be extended until Tuesday, August 31. This is because of the high number of cases for the country, with Auckland as the epicentre with 70 new cases. Meanwhile, nearby regions in its boundary will be at alert level 3 starting on the same date. This is among verified reports of the Delta strain of the coronavirus being more infectious even among the vaccinated. Ashley Bloomfield, who is the chief medical officer of the country, clarified that their current goal is to lower the number but not necessarily have zero cases in order to lower the alert level.
As of Wednesday, the country has had a total of 210 confirmed cases of local transmission of COVID-19. Being Australia’s largest city, Auckland has been the focus of government representatives with its cluster reviewing. They have been able to contact more than 12,000 people that can possibly be connected to the current infected cases. There are currently 12 people that are hospitalized because of the disease.
The citizens of Auckland who will be under Alert 4 will have to follow strict protocols. This includes being limited in terms of personal movement, only being allowed to go outside to get vaccinated, purchase groceries and healthcare supplies, exercise within the area, and go to work in case they are a frontliner worker who needs to physically attend. Those who will be under the Alert 3 will be allowed to get food takeout, continue construction, and attend school with limits. Both still strictly require a mask when in public transportation and when in contact with level 4 workers.
New Zealand has been hopeful recently because of the plateau trend in its COVID-19 cases. However, the Delta variant has resulted in a new challenge especially because of its infectiousness and fast spread. The country, with its fast lockdown procedures and strict border controls, has had a good track record so far. They only had 347 cases in total since the start of the outbreak. The country has also only experienced 12 deaths which is greatly lower compared to other countries like USA and India.
The medical officers of the country continue to monitor the close contacts of current infected people to minimize the risks of spreading it further. The government also continues its campaign to fully vaccinate its people, with a current number of 1 million people inoculated as of writing.