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New Zealand to keep borders closed until the end of the year

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By Euronews with AP
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Flanked by lawmakers, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern delivers a speech on Aug. 12, 2021, in Wellington, New Zealand.
Flanked by lawmakers, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern delivers a speech on Aug. 12, 2021, in Wellington, New Zealand.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Nick Perry
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New Zealand is to keep its borders closed to international travellers until the end of the year, the government announced on Thursday.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told reporters that the country is "not in a position to fully reopen yet" and that borders will remain closed until the end of the vaccination rollout.

Vaccinations against COVID-19 in New Zealand have been much slower than in most developed nations, although it is beginning to accelerate.

About 29% of New Zealanders have received one dose of the vaccine and 17% are fully vaccinated.

The island nation of 4.9 million inhabitants has recorded 2,557 confirmed infections since the beginning of the pandemic and 26 deaths.

No new infections were reported in the community on Thursday. Eight "recent returnees" have tested positive while in managed isolation facilities.

Ardern stressed that "when we move we will be careful and deliberate because we want to move with confidence and with as much certainty as is possible."

"Rushing could see us in the situation other countries are finding themselves in, where after sustained periods in case numbers falling, due to vaccination they're finding them rise again, after relaxing their settings and opening their borders," she added.

The country has been able to successfully stamp out the pandemic by shutting its borders early and only allowing in residents and citizens.

The latest announcement comes three weeks after New Zealand suspended its travel corridor with Australia due to a surge of infections there.