The COVID-19 outbreak in New Zealand has now grown to seven cases, with authorities confirming the outbreak has been linked back to the virus crisis in NSW.
It comes after the whole country was yesterday plunged into a level four lockdown for at least three days after a 58-year-old man with no obvious links to the border tested positive.
Auckland and Coromandel, where the man travelled, will remain in lockdown for at least a week in a bid to limit the spread of the virus, with authorities warning the outbreak is likely to escalate.
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Speaking to reporters a short time ago, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden said genome sequencing has confirmed the man who triggered the lockdown has the highly contagious Delta variant currently circulating in NSW.
“Our case has originated in Australia,” Ms Ardern said.
However, the case has left authorities baffled, with mystery surrounding how the virus managed to get from NSW into Auckland.
“Now the job we have is to work through is how and when it got here,” Ms Ardern said.
“The natural place to start is to look at our managed isolation facilities.
“But our ability to narrow down that this is a case that is linked to the New South Wales outbreak, gives us a lot of leads to chase down as quickly as we can”.
New Zealand residents are being warned to expect case numbers to rise, with most of the new cases aged in their 20s.
“They’ve been out and about a lot, and I’m flagging that there will be large numbers of locations of interest,” the country’s director-general of health Ashley Bloomfield said.
Ms Ardern admitted that she realises confirmation that it is the Delta variant will be of concern to many.
“I know that given Delta has not been in our community before, that will be news that people will find deeply concerning,” she said.
“But just I want to reassure people the best place we can be right now for that news and information is level four, and following all the level four rules.
“These measures have worked before and they will work again.”
Authorities are now closely examining cases that have recently arrived from New South Wales to determine if there is any possible link.