New Zealand records 13 new cases as restrictions clamp down

Cars queue at a Covid-19 test center in Auckland, New Zealand, on August 13.
Cars queue at a Covid-19 test center in Auckland, New Zealand, on August 13. Dean Purcel/AP

New Zealand has recorded 13 new cases of coronavirus in the past day, health officials said Sunday, as the country maintains new restrictions amid a sudden Covid-19 outbreak.

Of the new cases, 12 were in the Auckland community, with none having traveled outside the region recently. All had close links to the existing outbreak; two of the new cases belonged to the same household as a previously confirmed patient.

The remaining case is a child in managed isolation who arrived in early August from Afghanistan.

New Zealand has recorded 1,271 confirmed cases since the pandemic began, said health authorities. It currently has 61 active cases, of which 49 were locally transmitted and 20 were imported from abroad.

Auckland under lockdown: On Friday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that Auckland — the city of around 1.5 million people at the center of the new outbreak — will remain under a level three lockdown for another 12 days, while the rest of the country stays under level two restrictions, meaning gatherings are limited to no more than 100 people.

The rules extend restrictions that came into effect earlier this week.

Just five days before then, New Zealand was marking an enviable milestone — 100 days without any community transmission. But this week demonstrated how fast that can change, even in a country that been held up as a world leader for its handling of the virus.