New Zealand ramps up military at border to beat coronavirus outbreak

…as Brazil’s cases top 3.4m, death toll nears 110,000

New Zealand said it would increase the number of defence personnel at its quarantine facilities and border to beat any further spread of COVID-19, as it reported five new cases in the community on Wednesday.
Around 500 more defence personnel will be deployed, taking the total defence force personnel supporting the COVID-19 response to around 1,200 – the largest military contingent since New Zealand sent peacekeepers to Timor-Leste during unrest there in the early 2000s, the government said in a statement.
“There’s nothing to date that has tracked this particular cluster we are dealing with to the border, but nonetheless we want that to be as tight as possible,” New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said at a news conference.
New Zealand had five new cases in the community in the last 24 hours, dropping from 13 cases on Tuesday, which Ardern said indicated the country was not seeing a surge of COVID-19 in the community, reports Reuters.
“The roll out of our resurgence plan is working as we intended,” Ardern said, adding she had no intention to raise the level of restrictions in Auckland.
New Zealand has fared far better than most countries during the pandemic, but an abrupt resurgence of COVID-19 last week in Auckland prompted the government to enforce a alert level 3 lockdown on the city’s 1.7 million residents until Aug. 26, while social distancing rules are in place in other towns and cities.
The country still has had only 1,299 cases and 22 deaths.
The origin of the latest outbreak is still unknown, but authorities have ruled out the possibility that it came from frozen food items or freight.
Ardern delayed the country’s general election by a month earlier this week, bowing to pressure from parties who complained they could not campaign with nearly a third of New Zealand’s 5 million people under lockdown in Auckland.
And in a related development, Brazil reported 47,784 new cases of the novel coronavirus and 1,352 deaths from the disease caused by the virus in the past 24 hours, the health ministry said on Tuesday.
Brazil has now registered 3,407,354 cases of the virus since the pandemic began, while the official death toll from COVID-19 has risen to 109,888, according to ministry data, marking the world’s worst coronavirus outbreak after the United States.
And Mexico’s health ministry reported on Tuesday 5,506 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infections and 751 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 531,239 cases and 57,774 deaths.
The government has said the real number of infected people is likely significantly higher than the confirmed cases.


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