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COVID digest: NZ extends lockdown amid delta fears

August 20, 2021

New Zealand has extended its COVID lockdown as cases rise to 31. The UK has approved its first monoclonal antibody treatment for COVID-19. All the latest with DW.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern
New Zealand has extended its strict lockdown in a bid to control the spread of the virusImage: Mark Mitchell/AP Photo/picture alliance

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has extended New Zealand's strict lockdown until midnight on Tuesday as the country races to control the spread of the highly infectious Delta variant of the virus. 

"We have been here before...we know the elimination strategy works," Ardern told the press on Friday. "Cases rise and then they fall until we have none. It's tried and true... we just need to stick it out."

With 11 new cases reported on Friday, New Zealand's tally of infections has risen to 31. Critics have raised concerns about Ardern's ability to stamp out COVID-19 as she did last year, as the country's vaccine rollout has been sluggish.

The country had not recorded a new case of the virus in six months when an Auckland man tested positive earlier this week.

 As the country remains under lockdown, the outbreak has spread beyond Auckland with three new cases reported in Wellington. Those infected had traveled to Auckland in recent days. 

Here is a roundup of other coronavirus news from around the world:

Asia + Oceania

Australia’s Sydney will be under nightly curfews from next week as authorities in New South Wales struggle to slow the spread of the delta variant. The latest outbreak has pushed more than half of Australia’s 26 million people into lockdown. 

Japan is ramping up daily COVID testing across the country as infections crossed 25,000 for the first time on Thursday. The country is set to adopt the anti-contagion measures used in the recent Tokyo Olympics to stop the spread driven by the Delta variant. The surge has been noted among mostly unvaccinated individuals in their 40s and 50s. 

South Korea has extended coronavirus curbs for another two weeks as cases show little sign of abating, six weeks after the toughest Level 4 distancing rules were implemented in the greater Seoul area.

Under the newly announced rules, restaurants and cafes will have to close by 9 p.m. until September 5.

South Korea's battle against COVID-19

India's drug regulator approved the emergency use of Zydus Cadila's three-dose COVID-19 DNA vaccine for adults and children above 12 years of age.

Johnson & Johnson is seeking approval from Indian authorities to conduct a study of its vaccine among youngsters between the ages of 12 and 17. The pharma giant received emergency use approval for its single-dose shot in the country earlier this month. 

But conducting clinical trials among adolescents was imperative to achieve herd immunity against the virus, the company said in a statement.

Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh City has prohibited residents from leaving their homes in order to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The country’s strictest order yet comes as cases continue to spike in the epicenter of the country's virus outbreak. 

"We are asking people to stay where you are, not to go outside. Each home, company, factory should be an anti-virus fort," said Pham Duc Hai, deputy head of the city's coronavirus authority. The order takes effect on Monday. Details were yet to be announced. 

Indonesians keen to get vaccinated

Sri Lanka has imposed a nine-day country-wide curfew starting Friday 10 p.m. local time, officials announced. Only essential services are allowed to operate. 

The move comes as Sri Lanka struggles to contain a surge in COVID-19 cases, with an average of 3,500 new infections and 160 deaths reported daily.


Germany has listed Crete and other Greek islands, Kosovo, North Macedonia, and parts of Ireland as high-risk regions, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases said. Unvaccinated travelers from those areas will need to go into quarantine for 10 days — or five with a negative test.

Germany has recorded 9,280 new cases of the virus, taking the country’s infection tally to 3,853,055, according to data from the RKI. The death toll rose by 13. The new figures come amid warnings that Germany has already entered a fourth wave of infections.

The United Kingdom health regulator has approved the antibody developed by Roche and Regeneron — Ronapreve — to prevent and treat coronavirus. This is the first monoclonal antibody treatment for COVID-19 that has been approved in the UK, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency said.

The south European country has now vaccinated more than 70% of its population.


The United States extended a ban on nonessential travel along its borders with Canada and Mexico, despite growing pressure from border communities to lift the restriction.

The US Department of Homeland Security said the measure was still necessary to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The ban has been in place since March 2020, and has now been extended until at least September 21.

jc, fb, see/dj (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP, EFE)