In the past 24 hours New Zealand has reported seven new cases of coronavirus, says the country ‘s health chief.
The new cases of the virus came earlier this week after more than 100 days of zero community transmission from the region.
There are now 37 cases associated with the most recent outbreak, while another 19 people remain in quarantine.
Six of the seven new cases have been connected to the cluster that is responsible for all previous population infections, said Dr Ashley Bloomfield, New Zealand ‘s top health official.
New Zealand had gone 102 days without transmitting infections in the population, before the cluster was discovered on Tuesday.
After arriving from overseas, the only known cases were travellers quarantined.
Health authorities believe that the virus must have been reintroduced from overseas, but genome testing has not established a link with any of the quarantined travellers.
This led officials to examine whether shipping personnel were a source after being contaminated with multiple staff at a food storage facility.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern declared on Friday that lockdowns would remain in effect around the country until 26 August.
Health Minister Chris Hipkins said contact tracing has been going very well across the country.
They had talked to 934 of the 1,090 people authorities that had tried to communicate, he said.
He encouraged people to stay isolated from society and “follow the rules” as they went about their lives.
“We all want to be out of level 3 as quickly as we can and people following the rules is the best way out of that,” he said.
Dr Bloomfield said that one of the reasons behind New Zealand ‘s success in fighting the virus was a strong testing programme.
But he said he’d liked it to start faster than it had, while denying that there were other major problems with the scheme.
Recently a new strain of the virus appeared and Dr. Bloomfield said it was more of a “theme variant” and there was nothing to indicate it was more contagious or serious.