CANBERRA (REUTERS) - New Zealand said on Saturday (Sept 11) it detected 23 new Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours, denting optimism that the country was on course to eradicate the virus once more.
The new infections, all in the epicentre of Auckland, were up from the 11 cases detected a day earlier.
"This does serve as a strong reminder of the importance of following the Covid-19 alert level rules wherever you are, and to get tested if you have any symptoms or have been at a location of interest at the specified times," New Zealand's Ministry for Health said in an emailed statement.
Officials have also sped up the national vaccination programme as they battle an outbreak of the Delta variant that prompted Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to order a snap nationwide lockdown last month.
Around 31 per cent of New Zealand's 5.1 million people have been fully vaccinated, one of the slowest paces among the wealthy nations of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development grouping.
Ms Ardern's lockdowns and international border closure since March last year have been credited with reining in Covid-19, largely freeing up day-to-day activities for New Zealanders.