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Auckland returns to lockdown to fight UK variant

Auckland returns to lockdown to fight UK variant
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Auckland will reimpose coronavirus lockdown measures after a new cluster of the more contagious British coronavirus variant was detected in New Zealand’s largest city, Reuters reported Sunday.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the lockdown late Saturday, saying it would remain in place for a week. Ardern said a person had been infected with the strain for about a week without isolating.

“It is more than likely there will be additional cases in the community,” she said at a news conference, according to Reuters.

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“Despite our best efforts to date, recent cases have gone to work when they shouldn’t have,” she added.

The island nation has been one of the most successful countries at containing the virus, quickly sealing its borders or locking down individual cities when new clusters emerge.

The U.K. variant was first detected in New Zealand in mid-February, prompting a three-day stay-at-home order. Officials have linked at least 14 cases to the variant in New Zealand.

Under the new measures, people will be restricted to leaving home for work and essential shopping. All public venues will be closed in the city and other parts of the country will also be subject to curbs on public gatherings. Several sporting events have been postponed or altered, including the America’s Cup yacht race, which had been set for Sunday, and the Twenty20 International cricket match, which will be played in private in Wellington, according to Reuters.

New Zealand has recorded a total of 26 deaths and just over 2,000 infections from the virus since the beginning of the pandemic last year.