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New Zealand extends Auckland lockdown for 12 more days, sets up police checkpoints as Covid-19 continues to resurge

New Zealand extends Auckland lockdown for 12 more days, sets up police checkpoints as Covid-19 continues to resurge
Health officials have asked the residents of Auckland to stay at home in their "bubble" as strict quarantine rules are extended following a cluster of Covid-19 infections in the city.

The country's largest city was placed on a three-day Level 3 lockdown on Wednesday after authorities recorded a cluster of new locally-transmitted Covid-19 cases for the first time in 102 days. The initial four cases were linked to a single family that had recently visited tourist spots in the town of Rotorua.

The number of cases grew to 30 on Friday, all of which were linked to the cluster in Auckland. This prompted Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to extend the lockdown until August 26.

Our intention is that Auckland and New Zealand will quickly move back down through alert levels if we continue on this track. But it is wise to take a bit of extra time, that bit of extra time is our best way of getting out quickly.

Level 3 means that residents cannot leave their homes unless traveling on essential trips, like picking up groceries, or if they cannot work remotely, while non-essential establishments are closed down. Police checkpoints were set up outside Auckland to maintain quarantine restrictions and monitor movement.

Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield asked people to "stay at home in your bubble" and wear masks if they can.

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The rest of the country is on Alert Level 2, which is less restrictive. Authorities are hoping to curb the cluster of infections by contact-tracing and ramping up testing, including requiring mandatory tests in all of New Zealand's ports.

The sudden uptick in cases comes as a disappointing setback for the government, which celebrated 100 days without community transmission last week as “a significant milestone” in the fight against the coronavirus. Overall, New Zealand has had 1,602 cases since the start of the outbreak, and just 22 deaths.

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