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New Zealand confirms 7 new cases of COVID-19, masks mandatory on Aug. 31

(Xinhua)    16:23, August 25, 2020

WELLINGTON, Aug. 25 (Xinhua) -- New Zealand confirmed seven new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, all related to the community outbreak in Auckland, the country's largest city.

There are no new imported cases reported over the past 24 hours, according to a health ministry statement.

Of the seven community cases, four are linked to churches in Auckland, and three are separate household contacts, the statement said.

This brings New Zealand's total number of confirmed cases to 1,339, which is the number reported to the World Health Organization.

The total number of active cases in New Zealand is 129, of which 19 are imported cases from managed isolation facilities, Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield told a daily briefing.

There are 160 people linked to the cluster who have been moved into the Auckland quarantine facility. This includes 89 people who have tested positive for COVID-19 and their household contacts, Bloomfield said.

There are eight people receiving hospital-level care for COVID-19 and all of these are part of the Auckland community cluster, he said.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Monday the decision to make masks mandatory on public transport at Alert Level 2 and above, which will take effect from Aug. 31.

According to the rule, public transport includes planes, buses, taxis and rideshare services such as Uber. Children are not required to wear masks at the moment.

"This is a commonsense approach to protect everyone's health," Ardern said.

The COVID-19 restrictions in Auckland will continue at the current Alert Level 3 until Sunday night. The rest of the country will remain at Alert Level 2 with relaxed restrictions, she said.

Under level 3, businesses are required to implement COVID-19 safety measures, but most people are encouraged to stay at home.

Ministers met on Monday to review whether community transmission has been contained in Auckland, where a family cluster was identified two weeks ago as New Zealand's second wave of COVID-19 transmission started.

The prime minister acknowledged "the cost to business, the cost to the Auckland economy" under the higher level of COVID-19 restrictions, while stressing the risks of people leaving and entering Auckland under the relaxed Alert Level 2.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Shi Xi, Bianji)

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