New Zealand, which remained coronavirus-free for most of the pandemic, reported nearly 130 new cases on Friday, the biggest one-day increase on record.
The Ministry of Health said 129 people in the community had tested positive for COVID-19, including 120 people in Auckland and 9 in neighboring Waikato. At least 64 of those are known to have links to other cases, including 25 people who share a household with an infected person.
“The sharp rise in case numbers is a reminder of the infectiousness of COVID-19, and particularly the Delta variant, and the importance of vaccination as the best protection,” the health ministry said on Thursday, when the daily tally topped 100 for the first time. Nearly 28,000 people were tested on Thursday, which puts the positivity rate at roughly 0.5%.
Hospitals in New Zealand are currently treating 51 coronavirus patients, up from 46 on Thursday. Five patients are being treated in the intensive care unit (ICU), a decrease of two from the day before. No new deaths were reported.
New Zealand is often hailed as a success story in the fight against COVID-19, but the fast-spreading Delta variant has proven to be more difficult to contain, even though cases and deaths remain relatively low. Other countries which were hailed for its response – including Australia, Singapore, and Vietnam – are also experiencing outbreaks.
Australia’s Victoria state, which includes Melbourne, reported 2,189 new coronavirus cases on Friday, just hours after its lockdown came to an end. Residents in the city of five million people spent nearly nine months on lockdown, the longest of any major city worldwide.
New Zealand has reported 5,090 coronavirus cases since the pandemic began, most of which were detected in quarantine facilities for travelers from overseas. 28 people have died. There are currently 1,019 active cases of COVID-19, including 992 community cases.