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New Zealand has recorded 68 new COVID-19 cases in the community, as the fast-moving Delta variant ripples through the community.

Thursday’s increase took the cluster’s total to 277 associated cases, the Director of Public Health Dr Caroline McElnay said at the daily national briefing on the pandemic response.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the nature of the Delta outbreak has changed its impact on the community.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern: “Delta is very, very tricky”.Credit:Internet

“We can expect the lag time and our numbers to potentially be longer and bigger,” she said.

However, the fact that the outbreak hasn’t spread beyond Auckland and Wellington showed that restrictions were having an effect, Ardern said.

“Lockdown is having an impact.”

On Wednesday, New Zealand notched up 62 new community cases from the cluster that began in Auckland last week.

“Delta is very, very tricky,” Ardern said. There is an earlier period of infectiousness with it and the case numbers show this.

Ardern said authorities were “very pleased” that the swift move to lockdown had so far prevented cases in the South Island.

Underscoring the vulnerability of the young to the Delta variant, among the Wednesday cases was a baby under the age of 1.

New Zealand’s nationwide lockdown will be reviewed on Friday. Auckland will remain under strict stay-at-home orders until August 31 at a minimum.

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