New Zealand is zipping in Northland due to undiscovered fears of COVID-19 transfer

Authorities plan to cordon off the northern tip of New Zealand with police roadblocks as they enforce a roadblock in the region due to fears of undetected transmission of COVID-19 into the local community.

Part of the Northland region is set to begin a level-three lockdown from 11.59pm on Tuesday, said Chris Hipkins, the minister who is coordinating the response to the pandemic.

The move follows two cases in the region that lacked a link to known infections.

“It is unclear how they could have caught the virus at all,” Hipkins told a news conference.

“There may be undiscovered community transfer in Northland right now.”

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was forced to abandon a Northland press conference after being ravaged.
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was forced to abandon a Northland press conference after being ravaged. Credit: Robert Kitchin/AP

On Monday, the Cabinet will review the decision to cordon off the area, where vaccination rates are among the lowest in the country, where only 64 percent of the North Island’s eligible population is fully vaccinated.

New Zealand on Tuesday reported 126 new cases of COVID-19, of which 107 are in Auckland, 18 in Waikato and one in Northland.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who was visiting Northland on Tuesday, had to abruptly stop a media conference after being constantly interrupted and ravaged by at least two people.

New Zealand's COVID-19 reaction minister Chris Hipkins.
Part of NZ’s Northland region will go into lockdown, COVID-19 reaction minister Chris Hipkins said. Credit: AP

One could be heard singing during the event, while another asked Ardern to identify a person who died in August after receiving the Pfizer vaccine, accusing her of lying to the public.

New Zealand won global praise last year for its response that wiped out coronavirus.

But it has been harder to stop the current outbreak of the Delta variant around Auckland, forcing authorities to decide to live with the virus instead of an earlier elimination strategy.

Viral border rods in Auckland were extended by a week on Monday.

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