New Zealand allows COVID-19 vaccine for twelve years and above

Wellington, Aug 19 (AP): New Zealand will now allow youths aged 12 to 15 to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. Previously, only those aged 16 and over were eligible.
The government announcement Thursday came as the nation remains in a strict lockdown as it deals with a new outbreak of the fast-spreading delta variant, its first virus outbreak in six months.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said there were 11 new infections, bringing the total in the outbreak to 21. She said the outbreak had been linked to a passenger who returned from Sydney earlier this month.
On Tuesday, the government imposed a lockdown of at least three days across the country and of at least seven days in in Auckland and Coromandel. New Zealand health workers are using only the Pfizer vaccine in their inoculation campaign.
Health officials have been trying to determine how an Auckland man contracted the coronavirus this week, ending a six-month run of no community cases in New Zealand.
Tests showed the man had a version of the Delta strain found in Australia, and Ardern said investigations narrowed down the origin to a person who arrived from Sydney on August 7.
She said the traveller had been in quarantine and hospital since touching down, indicating the virus had not been in the community as long as initially feared. “We believe we have uncovered the piece of the puzzle we were looking for,” Ardern told reporters.
The infected traveller arrived from Sydney on a so-called “red zone” flight, arranged to bring back New Zealanders stranded when Wellington suspended a trans-Tasman travel bubble due to multiple outbreaks in Australia.
The person tested positive two days later and was hospitalised a week after that.
Officials said it was still unclear how the virus spread into the community and 1,000 close contacts of positive cases were being assessed.
New Zealand has adopted a policy of eliminating the virus in the community, rather than containing it, which has resulted in only 26 deaths in a population of five million.
Neighbouring Australia has been pursuing a similar “Covid zero” strategy, but is struggling to contain outbreaks of the Delta variant.
Health authorities on Thursday urged mass Covid testing for an entire Outback town in far western New South Wales, where an outbreak that began in Sydney two months ago is spreading.

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