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Today, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called for a strict lockdown in its largest city, Auckland. She instructed all the citizens to remain indoors as small outbreaks of the highly infectious Delta variant have been reported.

Auckland will remain at Alert Level 4 for at least another week while the rest of the country, which exited lockdown last week, will remain at Level 2, Ardern said Monday in Wellington. There had been a hope that Auckland’s lockdown could be eased to Level 3, but Ardern said ongoing new cases required a longer period at the highest level of restrictions.

As of Monday, Auckland recorded 33 new cases of the Delta variant. The metropolitan city remains at Alert Level 4 for at least another week while the rest of the country, which exited lockdown last week, will remain at Level 2. The city was all set to ease to Level-3, however, the new cases reported have forced the officials to take such a stern decision.

Talking to the media, Ardern mentioned that though a large number of cases have not been reported, the COVID-19 cases emerging portrayed a ‘high potential risk’. The city will experience the Level-4 lockdown till September 21. After that, Auckland will move from Level-4 to Level-3, which means curbs will be eased slightly but offices, schools, and public venues would still stay shut.

For several months, New Zealand was virus-free. So far, the outbreak has infected 955 people. The city is virtually cut off from the rest of the country, where the lockdown was lowered last week to level 2, enabling people to go back to their offices and schools.

However, PM Ardern has been slammed for a slower vaccination program as the country battled the Delta outbreak. About 34 percent of its 5.1 million population has been fully vaccinated so far.

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