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New Covid-19 cases recorded in New Zealand's South Island as Delta spreads

WELLINGTON (REUTERS) – Two new cases of the coronavirus were recorded in New Zealand’s South Island city of Christchurch on Thursday (Oct 28), the first in almost a year, as the country battles the spread of an outbreak of the infectious Delta variant.

Health authorities said the two positive Covid-19 cases in Christchurch were from the same household and one person had recently returned from Auckland, the epicentre of the current outbreak.

Once a poster child for stamping out Covid-19, New Zealand has been unable to quash the current Delta outbreak, forcing it to abandon an elimination strategy earlier this month and switch to living with the virus.

Still, it has fared far better than many comparable countries, with only around 5,900 cases in total and just 28 deaths.

New Zealand’s Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins told state broadcaster TVNZ that both new cases were unvaccinated and had been sick for about a week.

“We don’t have information yet about the extent of potential exposure,” Mr Hipkins said.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said last week New Zealand will end its strict lockdown measures when 90% of its eligible population is fully vaccinated.

About 72 per cent of those eligible have been fully vaccinated so far while nearly 87 per cent have received a first dose.

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