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Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern reacts during a COVID-19 response update at Parliament on Saturday in Wellington, New Zealand. Photo: Robert Kitchin/Pool/Getty Images

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Monday that New Zealand's pandemic elimination strategy was working, as she announced an extension to the nationwide lockdown due to a growing COVID-19 Delta outbreak.

Why it matters: NZ locked down last Tuesday after detecting the first community case in nearly six months — marking the arrival of the Delta variant in the island nation. The cluster has grown to 107 cases, with 35 more people testing positive for the virus Monday.

What they're saying: Ardern said at a briefing in the capital, Wellington, that "for now, absolutely elimination is the strategy" the government should use as coronavirus vaccinations continue to ramp up nationwide.

  • "We know that an elimination strategy has worked before," she added, pointing to the large periods New Zealand residents had enjoyed no restrictions — a goal she said she aims to return to.

The big picture: Ardern said at the briefing that the entire country would remain at its highest lockdown level until Friday, when this restriction would be reviewed.

  • But Auckland, the epicenter of the outbreak that's been traced to Sydney, would remain on alert level 4 until Aug. 31.

Between the lines: Scientist Shaun Hendy, who heads a scientific body advising the government, told Axios via email that level 4 restrictions were effective, and "we should start to see a decline in cases toward the end of this week."

  • Australia is facing outbreaks across the country, with New South Wales reporting a record 830 cases.
  • State capital Sydney, where most of the cases are, has been on lockdown since late June. But the state hasn't seen the same level of compliance to health measures as in New Zealand.

What to watch: The elimination strategy would remain the best option provided the lockdown brought case numbers down as expected, per Hendy.

  • COVID-19 vaccination coverage of 70% to 80% of NZ's total population could see the country's restrictions strategy change, according to the Te Pūnaha Matatini research center chief.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

Go deeper

Oct 26, 2021 - Health

New York City police union files lawsuit against vaccine mandate

Combination images of New York City Patrolman Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Photo: Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images/David Dee Delgado/Getty Images

New York City's biggest police union filed a lawsuit Monday against Mayor Bill de Blasio's COVID-19 vaccine requirement for all NYC public employees.

Why it matters: The mandate requires all city employees to have had at least one dose by this Friday. They must show proof of vaccination or they'll be placed on unpaid leave. The Police Benevolent Association of New York tweeted Monday that it's seeking a temporary restraining order to halt the mandate, pending the outcome of its lawsuit.

Oct 25, 2021 - World

U.S. releases updated vaccination, testing rules for foreign travelers

Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

Foreign travelers will be allowed entry to the U.S. beginning Nov. 8 if they can provide proof of full COVID-19 vaccination with a shot authorized by the World Health Organization and a negative test within three days of departure, the White House announced Monday.

Why it matters: The updated guidance, which exempts children under the age of 18 from the vaccine requirement, is intended to provide further clarity for airlines and foreign nationals who have been restricted from traveling to the U.S. since early 2020.

Oct 25, 2021 - Health

DeSantis touts bonuses for unvaccinated police who relocate to Florida

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a press conference Friday in Kissimmee, Fla. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced plans Sunday to "hopefully sign" legislation to provide a $5,000 bonus to police officers who relocate to Florida in order to avoid COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

Why it matters: The governor's pledge during an appearance on Fox News comes amid escalating tensions with the Biden administration over its upcoming vaccine requirement for federal workers.