New Zealand reports 21 new local COVID-19 cases as outbreak grows - Metro US

New Zealand reports 21 new local COVID-19 cases as outbreak grows

FILE PHOTO: New Zealand's COVID-19 safety measure mandating masks on public transport takes effect in Auckland

(Reuters) -New Zealand recorded 21 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, as the current community outbreak of the highly transmissible Delta variant continues to grow, bringing infections associated with the outbreak to 72, health officials said.

Of the 21 new cases, 20 are in Auckland, the largest city, and one is in the capital Wellington. Five people were in hospital, but no one was an intensive care unit.

The Pacific nation of 5.1 million is under a strict lockdown until midnight on Tuesday as the outbreak has widened beyond the two key cities.

COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said that about a million people have been fully vaccinated in New Zealand, after more than 50,000 doses of the vaccine were given on Saturday.

“We continue to deliver incredible numbers we can be proud of,” he said.

Until the current outbreak, however, New Zealand’s vaccination pace was the slowest among the wealthy nations of the OECD grouping, with only a fifth of the population fully vaccinated.

The country has recorded just 2,660 confirmed coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic and 26 related deaths, according to the health ministry.

(Reporting by Lidia Kelly in Melbourne; Editing by William Mallard and Christian Schmollinger)

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