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New Zealand extends lockdown for a third time as Covid-19 cases grow

New Zealand will extend its nationwide lockdown for another four days as it battles a Covid-19 outbreak.

Wellington, 27 August 2021 (dpa/MIA) — New Zealand will extend its nationwide lockdown for another four days as it battles a Covid-19 outbreak.

However, large parts of the country will see restrictions eased from Wednesday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told a press conference on Friday.

The country reported 70 new cases of community transmitted Covid-19 on Friday, taking a cluster discovered in Auckland to 347 in total.

New Zealand was put in a hard lockdown within hours of a single case being detected on Aug. 17, with all schools and non-essential businesses closed.

Ardern said the country “may be seeing the beginning of a plateau” in cases, following the lockdown.

“We are doing really well but caution is still required. Lockdown is making a difference,” she said.

With almost all of the cases in Auckland, near the top of the country’s North Island, restrictions would be eased for those living below the region.

From Wednesday, those living south of Auckland will still only be able to leave home for essential shopping and work.

However, schools will open for essential workers and while businesses must not open to the public, they can offer contactless services.

Ardern warned those living in and north of Auckland could face another fortnight under strict lockdown.

It is the first nationwide lockdown in New Zealand since March 2020, where the entire country was at the highest level of restrictions for six weeks.

The country, with a population of 5 million, has reported about 2,900 cases of Covid-19 since the onset of the pandemic with 26 deaths.

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