New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced a 12-day extension of the country’s Covid-19 restrictions, after a cluster of cases grew to 29.
There are four “alert levels” in New Zealand, and Auckland has been on Level 3 since Wednesday.
The rest of the country is on Level 2, and Ms Ardern said both would be extended.
New Zealand has had success containing coronavirus, and went 102 days without a community transmission.
The cause of the cluster in Auckland is still being investigated.
What did Ms Ardern say?
The PM said the decision to extend the restrictions was “in keeping with our cautionary approach and New Zealand’s philosophy of going hard and going early”.
She said that, in 12 days’ time, she thought “the cluster will be identified, will be isolated, and we can move to Level 2 in Auckland with confidence”.
All 29 cases “remain linked to one cluster centred in Auckland”, Ms Adern said, adding that 38 people are in government quarantine.
But she said that, although the first case was confirmed in Auckland on Tuesday, contact-tracing had “determined that the earliest case…was at a store in Wellington that became sick on approximately 31 July”.
“In terms of the ongoing investigation to identify where the virus originated from, there are still no clear connections at this point,” she added.
What is Level 2 and Level 3?
In Level 3, which is now in place in Auckland, all public places – such as libraries, museums, cinemas, food courts, and playgrounds – must close.
People must work from home where possible, and stay in their “household bubbles” when not at work or school.
Supermarkets and petrol stations can open, but other “close contact” businesses must shut.
Level 2 – which applies to the rest of the country – is less severe.
People can still go to work and school, but they must keep their distance and wear a mask if possible. Gatherings of more than 100 are banned.