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New Zealand will lift a Covid-19 lockdown of its largest city of Auckland and ease restrictions across the rest of the country from midnight on Wednesday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

Auckland’s nearly 2 million residents were plunged into a snap three-day lockdown on Monday, after a more contagious Covid-19 variant that first emerged in Britain was detected in a family of three.

Health authorities reported three new locally transmitted cases of Covid-19 on Wednesday, all of them from the same home as the child who tested positive on Sunday.

The Auckland lockdown was the first in the country for about six months, after a hard nationwide shutdown early in the pandemic appeared to have largely eliminated local transmission.

The move to end the lockdown came as health authorities said the outbreak had grown by three cases to six in total.

According to Ardern, the additional cases were to be expected because they involved close contacts.


Ramped-up testing indicates the outbreak hasn’t spread far.

New Zealand will start inoculating its 5 million people against the new coronavirus on Feb. 20, having received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine earlier this week.


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