Just as we expected, New Zealand has decided to extend its three-day "snap" lockdown, as the restrictions will be extended for another four days, with PM Jacinda Ardern's cabinet set to meet Monday to decide whether another extension might be merited (we suspect it almost definitely will). That's because, although New Zealand has yet to confirm that the cases COVID cases plaguing the country in months are actually the delta variant, authorities' "strong suspicion" inspired the initial lockdown after just a single case.
On Friday, Kiwi authorities confirmed another 11 cases of the virus, bringing the total number uncovered during the outbreak to 31. They also confirmed three cases in Wellington - the first sign that the outbreak has already spread to New Zealand's capital.
Ardern - who has sought to redirect Kiwi's blame for the lockdown toward "Australia" - said Friday that New Zealand was "in a reasonable position" in its first meeting with the dreaded Delta variant, but it was "too soon to draw any conclusions". At the outset of the lockdown, Ardern justified it by arguing it was better to hit "hard and fast" and suppress the virus, even though scientists debate whether that's even possible or not.
She also admitted Friday that there's still "a lot we don't know".
"It is early days and there is still a lot we don't know," she said.
"We're dealing with a large number of locations which we sadly know from experience do lead to more cases."
The PM added that the government believes it'll be in a better position to make an assessment about the length of the lockdown after the full seven days have passed. The lockdown first started this Tuesday just passed.
Already, some Kiwi bureaucrats are pushing for an extension. Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield recommended a longer lockdown for Auckland, to Aug. 31, but Ardern said she would make the call on Monday.
Another proponent of "COVIDZero", Associate Health Minister Ayesha Verrall, said the Kiwi government needed to see not just the absence of new cases, but the proof of the virus's absence uncovered through strong testing. Meanwhile, many are complaining on social media that COVID has transformed Australia and New Zealand into open air prisons...
Australia and New Zealand are prisons...— C.J. Bowden (@CJBowden1) August 20, 2021
"Sydney lockdown extended, masks required outside."https://t.co/edBypLRwVz