News Coronavirus New Zealand records 21 cases ahead of vaccine swap
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New Zealand records 21 cases ahead of vaccine swap

New Zealand has recorded 21 new locally acquired cases of coronavirus ahead of the country's "multi-party" vaccine swap deal that promises more doses for September.
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Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says New Zealand will complete an Australia-style swap deal for Pfizer vaccine this week.

Vaccination rates have surged in New Zealand in the past three weeks during the country’s latest outbreak as Kiwis rush to inoculate themselves against COVID-19.

However, that surge of almost double previous vaccination rates means the country might have needed to slow its rollout this week to avoid a shortfall.

On Tuesday, director-general of Health Ashley Bloomfield announced another 21 virus cases.

That’s a small increase from the previous three days, when there were 20 cases each day.

“All the numbers are moving in the right direction, which is reassuring,” Dr Bloomfield said.

All of Tuesday’s cases were identified in Auckland, where the Delta outbreak remains centred.

Dr Bloomfield also revealed 39 Kiwis are being treated in hospital. There are six in intensive care, including four on ventilators.

Tuesday’s cases bring the total outbreak to 841 people, with 147 having recovered.

More than a week ago, Ms Ardern said she would announce her updated vaccine strategy within days.

On Tuesday, she confirmed a “complex” deal that involved “extensive multi-party negotiations” will mean extra vaccine arrived this month.

“The government quickly reached out to Pifzer and overseas partners [after the surge]. These rapid negotiations have been taken place over the past two weeks,” she said.

“They will enable us to continue that additional surge capacity through September.”

Ms Ardern said the total doses arriving and the partner countries would come when contracts were signed.

NZ has spent three weeks in a national lockdown fighting the highly infectious Delta variant.

On Wednesday, the 3.4 million Kiwis who live outside the Auckland region will leave lockdown.

A lack of cases outside Auckland has given Ms Ardern’s government confidence to shift alert levels from three to two as of at 11.59pm Tuesday (local time).

Auckland will remain in a harsh level four lockdown for at least another week.

-AAP