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New Zealand extends Auckland virus lockdown by 12 days

Auckland, New Zealand | New Zealand on Friday extended a lockdown of it's largest city Auckland by at least 12 days, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced, as authorities struggled with a growing new coronavirus outbreak.

A cafe forced to close under restrictions places mannequins at the tables to mimic customers in Auckland on August 14, 2020. - New Zealand rushed to track the source of a sudden return of the coronavirus as the number of new cases in its biggest city rose to 17 and officials warned more infections were inevitable. David Rowland / AFP
"Cabinet has agreed to maintain our current settings for an additional 12 days, bringing us to a full two weeks in total," Ardern said.

Since four people tested positive on Tuesday -- the first cases in community transmission in 102 days -- New Zealand has detected a cluster of 30 virus cases.

Most of those cases have been found around Auckland, a city of 1.5 million people who have been asked to stay at home.

Worryingly, two of the infections were found in the town of Tokoroa, around 210 kilometres (130 miles) south of Auckland.

Authorities are still struggling to find out how the virus came to return to New Zealand, which had earned global praise for its handling of the crisis.

Ardern said that genetic testing had shown no link between this outbreak and cases in quarantined arrivals from overseas, or from the first wave of cases.

But she voiced optimism that the latest outbreak had been quickly detected and could be brought to heel.

"There are signs we have found this outbreak relatively early in its life," she said.

"Extensive testing and contact tracing" had determined the earliest case becoming sick around July 31.

Topics: COVID-19 , Coronavirus , New Zealand , Lockdown
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