August 24, 2021 | By Bronwen Largier

The Level 4 lockdown of the whole of New Zealand has been extended for a second time, until at least midnight on Friday night, as the Delta outbreak there continues to grow, with 35 new cases announced yesterday and a further 41 announced today. The total number of cases associated with the current outbreak is now 148 cases. The nation’s largest city, Auckland, where the outbreak began, will remain in lockdown until at least midnight next Tuesday.

Only virtual events can take place when the Level 4 Alert state is in place.

While the majority of cases have been detected in Auckland, a number of cases have surfaced in the country’s capital Wellington, as a result of allowed travel between the two cities, possibly undertaken before the first case was discovered and also as people have been allowed to return home to see out the lockdown.

“We don’t yet believe we’ve reached the peak of this outbreak or necessarily the edges of it,” said New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, when announcing the lockdown extension. She said the country was at day 6 of the lockdown in real terms and early modelling had shown it would take eight to ten days to get on top of it.

“The safest option for all of us right now is to hold the course for longer,” she said.

She also reconfirmed New Zealand’s commitment to an elimination strategy for COVID-19 infections.

“We can only look at what’s best for us. We know an elimination strategy has worked for New Zealand before.

“That’s the way that we have managed to have a larger number of days where we have been without restrictions than countries like the UK or like the United States and not had our people gravely ill and hospitalised and unfortunately losing their lives.

“So, for now, the elimination strategy is the right thing for New Zealand.”

In some positive news out of New Zealand – considering the situation – Seafood New Zealand’s conference that was forced to cancel last-minute during the lockdown received some positive coverage in mainstream news outlets for donating food from the conference to charity organisations.