| 4 December 2021, Saturday |

New Zealand reports second-highest daily COVID-19 cases in pandemic

On Monday, New Zealand reported 109 new locally acquired coronavirus cases, the majority of which occurred in Auckland, the country’s largest metropolis, as the country had its second-worst day of daily infections since the epidemic began.

New Zealand, which was once the poster child for eradicating COVID-19, has been unable to contain an outbreak of the Delta strain of COVID-19 in Auckland, despite the city being placed under extreme lockdown for more than two months.

The country also reported the first community case of the virus in in a year in its South Island over the weekend, causing more concern, but health experts said the danger of further spread was low.

The spike in cases has forced Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to abandon her elimination strategy and switch to living with the virus, and health officials have warned of an uptick in cases until vaccinations ramp up.

As of Monday, 71% of eligible New Zealanders were fully inoculated, including 77% of Aucklanders.

Last week, Ardern said New Zealand will end its strict lockdown measures and restore more freedoms only when 90% of its eligible population is fully vaccinated.

The number of cases in the current outbreak reached 2,681 and New Zealand has recorded 28 coronavirus-related deaths so far in the pandemic.

Officials did not hold a press briefing on Monday due to the Labour Day holiday.