| 19 May 2024, Sunday |

New Zealand COVID-19 Delta outbreak spreading rapidly as cases jump

New Zealand saw its largest increase in COVID-19 cases since April 2020 on Tuesday, as officials warned that the current outbreak of the extremely virulent Delta version of the coronavirus was like dealing with a completely new virus.

After an epidemic of the Delta type erupted in Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, and soon spread to the capital Wellington, the South Pacific nation’s virus-free streak ended last week.

Authorities reported 41 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, taking the total infections in the country to 148, the Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said at a news conference. That was the biggest increase in cases since April 10, 2020, according to data from the Ministry of Health.

Of the new cases, 38 are in Auckland and three are in Wellington. So far, eight people associated with the current outbreak are in hospital, the ministry said.

“Delta is unlike our previous experience. It is, as we know, highly infectious and transmissible and, as we have seen, spreads rapidly,” Bloomfield said at a news conference.

But he said it was reassuring to see the numbers were not rising exponentially and the majority were still in Auckland.


Authorities reported a cluster of at least 58 people of Samoan ethnicity and linked to the Samoan Assembly Of God Church in Auckland.

The health ministry said there were unfortunately racist comments being directed at the community.

“The virus is the problem, not people,” the ministry said on Twitter.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has garnered global praise for stamping out COVID-19 in the country.

But her reliance on strict border controls and snap lockdowns that have impacted the economy has been called into question amid the latest outbreak, which has occurred while few people have been vaccinated.

Ardern announced on Monday that the stringent level 4 national lockdown would be prolonged until August 27.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia, who is also under fire for mounting COVID-19 cases, said that removal cannot be pursued indefinitely, citing New Zealand as an example.

“Any state or territory that thinks they can defend themselves from COVID indefinitely with the Delta strain is just ludicrous,” he said on 9News’ Today breakfast show.

“New Zealand, for example, is incapable of doing so. They were on a mission to get rid of as many people as possible. They’ve been put on lockdown. The only way out is to go to the 70 percent and 80 percent (vaccination) of people who haven’t been vaccinated “”Securely open,” he remarked.

  • Reuters