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NZ South Island reports local COVID case

New Zealand’s South Island has detected its first community case of COVID-19 in almost a year, health officials say.

The last community transmission cases – those recorded outside of international arrivals – were in November 2020, when two nurses working in a quarantine facility tested positive.

Officials are working to confirm the source of the infection, but it is believed to be linked to an outbreak of the Delta variant in the North Island.

A person in Blenheim in the South Island’s northeast tested positive late on Friday night, the Ministry of Health said.

They had flown from the North Island to the South and then developed a sore throat.

“The current public health assessment is that the risk appears low given the individual’s likely late stage of infection,” the ministry said.

Across the country, 104 new cases of COVID-19 were reported on Saturday, with health officials working to determine the connection of 61 of them to the current outbreak.

Auckland, the country’s largest city, which is on the North Island and has a population of 1.7 million, has been under strict restrictions after a single case was detected on August 18.

The number of cases in the outbreak has now reached 2492.

Officials urged New Zealanders to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

New Zealand posted a record 129 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, and reached triple figures for the first time on Thursday.

About 86 per cent of the country’s eligible population has received a first vaccine dose, while 70 per cent of New Zealand residents are fully vaccinated.

New Zealand has reported about 5000 cases of COVID-19 and 28 deaths since the onset of the pandemic.

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