New Zealand reports biggest COVID rise in six weeks

Some 1.7 million people in Auckland are under strict stay-home orders until Monday (October 18) as officials look to stamp out the highly infectious Delta outbreak, the first major spate of community cases in the country since early in the pandemic.

Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson said the surge in case numbers in Auckland was not unexpected "but they are rising more quickly," and blamed illegal home gatherings for the spike. A total of 71 new local cases were reported in the country, all detected in Auckland, up from 55 a day earlier.

About 2.49 million New Zealanders have been fully vaccinated, or about 59% of the eligible population, with officials promising to end lockdowns once 90% are vaccinated. Officials are looking to administer a record 100,000 doses in a single day during a mass immunization drive on Saturday (October 16).

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