New Zealand sees highest increase in Covid since April 2020 a day after ‘unfathomable’ lockdown 

New Zealand has recorded its highest increase in Covid cases since April 2020, just a day after Jacinda Ardern extended the country’s draconian lockdown in a move branded ‘absurd’ by Australia’s prime minister.

Infections grew by 41 on Tuesday, taking the total infections in the recent outbreak to 148, with health officials already warning the Delta variant would be like dealing with a whole new virus.

Ardern was slammed for the ‘unfathomable’ decision to extend the harsh lockdown on Monday in response to the rising cases, which has led to a total of eight people being hospitalised.

Critics said the strategy of trying to totally eradicate the virus through lockdown measures was always destined to fail when confronted with the more contagious Delta variant, particularly with the slow vaccination rollout in New Zealand. 

Australian PM Scott Morrison, who has presided over similarly harsh lockdowns in response to relatively few cases, told the 9News breakfast show: ‘Any state and territory that thinks that somehow they can protect themselves from Covid with the Delta strain forever, that’s just absurd.

‘I mean, New Zealand can’t do that. They were following an elimination strategy. They’re in lockdown. The way through is to get to those 70 per cent and 80 per cent (vaccination) marks and open safely.’ 

New Zealand's nation's virus-free run since February ended last week after the outbreak of the Delta variant erupted in Auckland. The nation on Tuesday recorded its highest increase in COVID-19 cases since April 2020

New Zealand's nation's virus-free run since February ended last week after the outbreak of the Delta variant erupted in Auckland. The nation on Tuesday recorded its highest increase in COVID-19 cases since April 2020

New Zealand’s nation’s virus-free run since February ended last week after the outbreak of the Delta variant erupted in Auckland. The nation on Tuesday recorded its highest increase in COVID-19 cases since April 2020

An outbreak was recorded in Sydney over the weekend as cases grew by more than 800, near record levels. Health authorities said Monday an outbreak centred in Melbourne also grew by 71 cases and another in the capital, Canberra, grew by 16 cases.

An outbreak was recorded in Sydney over the weekend as cases grew by more than 800, near record levels. Health authorities said Monday an outbreak centred in Melbourne also grew by 71 cases and another in the capital, Canberra, grew by 16 cases.

An outbreak was recorded in Sydney over the weekend as cases grew by more than 800, near record levels. Health authorities said Monday an outbreak centred in Melbourne also grew by 71 cases and another in the capital, Canberra, grew by 16 cases.

On Monday, Jacinda Ardern extended New Zealand's harsh level 4 lockdown until at least Friday, and until the end of the month in Auckland

On Monday, Jacinda Ardern extended New Zealand's harsh level 4 lockdown until at least Friday, and until the end of the month in Auckland

On Monday, Jacinda Ardern extended New Zealand’s harsh level 4 lockdown until at least Friday, and until the end of the month in Auckland

The South Pacific nation’s virus-free run since February ended last week after an outbreak of the Delta variant erupted in Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, and quickly spread to the capital Wellington. 

The health ministry said a cluster of at least 58 people of Samoan ethnicity linked to the Samoan Assembly Of God Church in Auckland were among the infected, and that the community had received racist messages via social media.

‘The virus is the problem, not people,’ the ministry said on Twitter.

Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said: ‘Delta is unlike our previous experience. It is, as we know, highly infectious and transmissible and, as we have seen, spreads rapidly.’

Jacinda Ardern had garnered global praise for stamping out Covid in the country, but her reliance on strict border controls and snap lockdowns has been called into question amid the latest outbreak, which has occurred while only 20 per cent of the population has been vaccinated. 

Opposition leader Judith Collins on Monday said: ‘At a time when New Zealanders have the harshest lockdown in the world and have lost our freedoms because of the government’s failure to vaccinate and secure the border, [the lockdown extension] by Jacinda Ardern is unfathomable.’

Though most of the country will remain in level 4 lockdown until Friday 27 August, Auckland is destined to stay fully locked down until the end of the month

Though most of the country will remain in level 4 lockdown until Friday 27 August, Auckland is destined to stay fully locked down until the end of the month

Though most of the country will remain in level 4 lockdown until Friday 27 August, Auckland is destined to stay fully locked down until the end of the month

Scott Morrison declared on Monday that Australian states must open their borders once vaccination rates reach 80 per cent of the population aged 16 years and older.

But in Western Australia, where there are no community infections, premier Mark McGowan said his government would not reopen at the 80 per cent vaccination level if it meant reintroducing the virus.

Around 24 per cent of Australians are fully vaccinated.

Prime Minister Morrison’s remarks came following an outbreak in Sydney over the weekend as cases grew by more than 800, near record levels.

Health authorities said an outbreak centred in Melbourne also grew by 71 cases and another in the capital, Canberra, grew by 16 cases.

All three cities remain in lockdown despite widespread protests which have left a number of police officers injured in violent clashes with protestors. 

Violence erupted when police attempted to control protesters with pepper spray during the Freedom protest on August 21, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia

Violence erupted when police attempted to control protesters with pepper spray during the Freedom protest on August 21, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia

Violence erupted when police attempted to control protesters with pepper spray during the Freedom protest on August 21, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia

Police used tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets on demonstrators in Melbourne and arrested more than 200 people after an anti-lockdown rally on Saturday descended into a riot.

More than 4,000 people turned up to the ‘freedom rally’ in the Australian city on Saturday morning, and by late afternoon six officers has been hospitalised – including two with suspected broken noses, one with a broken thumb and the others with concussions – and 218 protesters arrested. 

Police issued 236 fines for breaching coronavirus restrictions, and have three people in custody for assaulting police. 

Smaller protests also erupted in Sydney, Brisbane and Cairns.

Link hienalouca.com

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