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New Zealand extends lockdown for 12 days as cluster of cases grew to 29

New Zealand extends Auckland lockdown for 12 days, after a cluster of cases grew to 29

New Zealand will maintain its current lockdown settings for 12 more days, after a cluster of cases grew to 29.

That would mean the current settings will be in place for 14 days - or one full incubation period.

The current settings will remain until 11.59pm on August 26, but Cabinet will review the settings on August 21, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has just announced.

"There is nothing to suggest we need to move to a level 4 lockdown at this stage."

There are four “alert levels” in New Zealand, and Auckland has been on Level 3 since Wednesday.

Under Level 3, which is now in place in Auckland, all public places – such as libraries, museums, cinemas, food courts, and playgrounds – must be closed.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.

Ardern said moving all of the North Island to level 3 was unnecessary because all of the cases were connected, and all confirmed cases were in isolation.

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 origin of the cluster in Auckland - New Zealand's largest city with a population of 1.5 million - is still being investigated.

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 Ardern said, adding that 38 people are in government quarantine.

"And it may continue to be linked to schools, churches and social gatherings, as it has done to date. We also know, based on overseas experience and our own, that it is possible to contain a cluster or outbreak without ever being able to identify its origin."

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