Jacinda Ardern splits New Zealand as Covid cases total 347

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New Zealand has been split in half after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced two separate levels of harsh restrictions would be implemented to contain the threat of the highly-infectious Delta variant.

The nation's lockdown was extended on Friday after the current Covid outbreak jumped by another 70 cases, all in Auckland.

After a cabinet review on Friday, Ms Ardern revealed a number of tweaks and extensions to the rules, which included introducing two levels of restrictions.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is pictured during a Covid update.
New Zealand's lockdown will be extended after the Delta outbreak swelled by another 70 cases. Pictured is Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Source: AAP

Auckland and Northland, which are the epicentres of the outbreak, are likely to stay in level-four lockdown – the country's harshest restrictions – through to September 15.

The rest of New Zealand – including Wellington with 14 cases to date and the South Island with none – will move to level-three lockdown from September 1.

"We are doing really well. And we have evidence that what we are doing is working. But caution is still required," Ms Ardern said.

The decisions will be approved at a cabinet meeting on Monday.

People cross nearly empty streets in the central business district of Auckland, New Zealand, on August 27, 2021.
Auckland and Northland are likely to stay under harsh level-four restrictions until September 15. Source: AAP

What lockdown looks like in New Zealand

Retailers will be allowed to operate with click and collect for much of the nation under level-three restrictions.

Restaurants and cafes can open for contactless takeaways.

Just like level four, it does not allow for social gatherings outside of household "bubbles".

The number of daily cases is veering dangerously close to New Zealand's worst day of the pandemic, back in April 2020 when 89 cases were reported.

However, it also indicates a slight flattening out of numbers after 68 cases on Thursday and 62 on Wednesday.

"We may be seeing the beginning of a plateau of cases," Ms Ardern said.

"Our job is to keep up the hard work in order to bend and flatten that curve."

Ms Ardern warned numbers may remain high in coming days due to household transmissions.

The outbreak now totals 347 cases, including 333 in Auckland and the rest in Wellington.

with AAP

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