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New Zealand reports first coronavirus case in community since Feb

17 August 2021 - 07:51 By Reuters
The last reported community case of Covid-19 in New Zealand was in February.
The last reported community case of Covid-19 in New Zealand was in February.
Image: 123RF\drmicrobe

New Zealand on Tuesday reported its first case of COVID-19 in the community in six months after a person tested positive in its largest city of Auckland.

The link between the case and the border or managed isolation is yet to be established, the Health Ministry said in a statement, adding the case is now being investigated.

The last reported community case of COVID-19 in New Zealand was in February.

The Auckland Regional Public Health unit is undertaking interviews with the case for contact tracing purposes, the statement said.

"Ministers will meet this afternoon once additional information is gathered to confirm a response," it added.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern rushed back to the capital Wellington from Auckland to attend a cabinet meeting on next steps, state broadcaster TVNZ reported.

Ardern will update the media at 6:00 p.m. (0600 GMT), a spokesman said.

New Zealand has followed a go hard and early response that has helped it virtually eliminate COVID-19 domestically, allowing people to live without restrictions although its international border remains largely closed.

The country has reported about 2,500 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 26 related deaths.

University of Auckland COVID-19 modeller Professor Shaun Hendy, who has helped the government model its response to the virus, said Aucklanders must take precautions and assume they have been exposed to the virus.

"If there is a link to the border, then there is a chance we've caught this outbreak at an early stage. If not, then there will be more cases out there. In either case we should be prepared for an Alert Level change in Auckland, if not other parts of the country," Hendy said on Twitter. The New Zealand dollar tumbled 0.7% to $0.6972 after the community case was discovered.

The news came a day before the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) is expected to become the first central bank among developed countries to raise interest rates since the pandemic as the economy booms.