New Zealand's Ardern extends lockdown to stamp out coronavirus outbreak

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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Friday extended a lockdown measures in Auckland in response to the first coronavirus outbreak in months.

Lockdown measures in Auckland, home to about 1.7 million people, and social distancing measures across the country that were imposed on Wednesday would remain in place for another 12 days.

"As we have said from the start, our overall COVID-19 strategy remains elimination," Ardern said in a televised media conference. "Together, we have got rid of COVID before. We have kept it out for 102 days, longer than any other country. We can do all of that again."

She explained that the genomic testing has shown that the latest outbreak is a different strain to the original outbreak earlier in the year.

Ardern is under pressure ahead of a upcoming general election, with the main opposition National Party accusing the government of failing to secure quarantine facilities and withholding information.

The leader cautioned that more cases were likely in the coming days but said she was confident officials would successfully identify the "perimeter" of the cluster - if not its source - allowing them to isolate cases and remove restrictions.

Her swift action followed the discovery on Tuesday of the country's first COVID-19 infections in 102 days, in a family in Auckland. Since then, officials have identified a total of 29 cases, all linked to the same cluster.

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