New Zealand reported on Saturday the first death from the Delta variant of the new coronavirus and 20 further daily infections, all in Auckland, the epicentre of the outbreak.
The woman who died was in her 90s and had a number of underlying health conditions, health officials said in a statement. It is the first coronavirus-related death in the country since mid-February.
“Every death is a reminder of the damage Covid-19 can cause when it gets into our community,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in the statement.
“Our older New Zealanders and those with underlying health issues are by far the most at risk from the virus and one of the reasons lockdowns are such an important tool to stop its spread.”
New Zealand appears to be breaking the chain of transmission of the highly infectious Delta variant, with Saturday’s numbers backing a lowering trend seen in recent days.
About 1.7 million people in Auckland, the nation’s largest city, have been in strict level 4 lockdown since mid-August. Curbs have been eased in the rest of the countries but schools and offices as well as cafe, restaurants and all public venues remain shut. Most New Zealanders have been asked to stay indoors.
Active cases of the current outbreak stand at 782, with 765 in Auckland and 17 in Wellington, the capital.
New Zealand, a nation of five million, has reported 3,392 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 27 related deaths since the pandemic began.