New Zealand reported 11 new Delta community cases on Thursday, all in Auckland and being transferred to managed isolation and quarantine facilities, bringing the total outbreak to 21 active cases.

Two cases – one in their 20s, one in their 40s – have been taken to hospital and are in stable conditions, Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield told a press conference.

A pedestrian passes a social distancing sign on Cuba Street in Wellington, New Zealand, Aug. 17, 2021. Image: Xinhua

Among the 21 cases, 12 have already been confirmed in the same cluster, a further eight are under investigation but have strong links to the cluster. One is unlikely to be linked as the case is the Air NZ crew member who is linked to the border, Bloomfield said.

The cluster is linked to a returnee from Sydney who arrived on a flight on Aug. 7. This person was transferred to hospital on Aug. 16, he said.

This outbreak will continue to grow, considering the large number of locations of interest which have been identified nearly 70 so far, including malls, a school, bars, and more, Bloomfield said.

People buy food and daily necessities at a supermarket to prepare for a national COVID-19 lockdown in Wellington, New Zealand, Aug. 17, 2021. Image: Xinhua

From Sept. 1, the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine will be available for 12 to 15-year-olds, he said, adding that masks are now mandatory for customers and staff at all essential services.

New Zealand has moved to the top level 4 national lockdown from midnight Tuesday after the first identified Delta COVID-19 case in the Auckland community.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the Alert Level will be reviewed on Friday for all areas except Auckland and the Coromandel Peninsula which will remain at Level 4 for an initial period of seven days.

People walk on the street in Wellington, New Zealand, Aug. 17, 2021. Image: Xinhua

Under the Alert Level 4 lockdown, businesses and schools are closed except for essential ones such as supermarkets, pharmacies, and service stations.

XINHUA | WELLINGTON

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