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New Zealand's COVID-19 lockdown extended as outbreak tops 100 cases

WELLINGTON -Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday extended New Zealand’s strict nationwide COVID-19 lockdown saying the current outbreak of the Delta variant of the coronavirus had not yet peaked.

The level 4 national lockdown was extended by three days until midnight on Aug. 27 while Auckland, the epicentre of the outbreak, will have restrictions in place at least until Aug. 31.

“The safest option for all of us right now is to hold the course for longer,” Ardern said at a news conference.

“If the world has taught us anything it is to be cautious with this variant of COVID-19,” she added.

Ardern said contacts in the community by people infected with the Delta variant were reported all over the country. There are more than 320 locations of interest linked to the outbreak and 13,000 contacts have been recorded, far more than in previous outbreaks.

“Delta has changed the rules of the game,” Ardern said.

New Zealand earlier in the day reported 35 new cases of COVID-19 taking the total number of infections in the outbreak to 107.

The health ministry said in a statement that 33 new cases are in Auckland and two are in the capital Wellington.

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