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New Zealand COVID-19 cluster grows with 13 new cases reported

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand -- New Zealand on Thursday reported 13 new cases of COVID-19, with health officials linking them to one Auckland family.

Health officials expected further cases to be detected over the coming days, director general of health Ashley Bloomfield told media.

On Tuesday the country reported four cases of COVID-19 all from the Auckland family, after 102 days of no community transmission.

The cases led to the country's largest city being placed into lockdown.

Bloomfield said all positive cases would be moved to managed quarantine facilities as officials work to contain the spread.

"The virus is the problem, people are the solution," he said.

Bloomfield said genome sequencing to find the source of the spread was still underway.

No exact match with cases in managed isolation facilities had been found yet.

However, the new community cases most closely resembled genomic sequences identified in cases from Australia and the United Kingdom, Bloomfield said.

 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told media that the restrictions in place throughout Auckland were giving officials a "helping hand" in slowing the spread.

"As we have seen before, it will grow before it slows," she said.

The lockdown is expected to last until midnight Friday local time but could be extended if necessary.

The country has reported a total of 1,589 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19, with 22 deaths.

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