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WELLINGTON, Sept 23 -- New Zealand reported 15 new Delta variant cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country's community outbreak to 1,123.
The new infections were all recorded in the largest city Auckland, Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield told a press conference.
Fifteen community cases are being treated in the hospital, including three in intensive care units (ICUs) or high dependency units (HDUs), Bloomfield said as quoted by Xinhua News Agency.
There are 1,088 cases that have been clearly epidemiologically linked to another case or sub-cluster, and a further 14 cases for which links are yet to be fully established, he said.
Auckland relaxed restrictions by moving to COVID-19 Alert Level 3 on Wednesday for at least two weeks. The city was previously at Level 4, the top-level COVID-19 lockdown, for more than 30 days, longer than last year's lockdown, with schools and none-essential businesses closed.
Under Alert Level 3, construction work and takeaway services can resume with necessary safety measures in place, while most students are still encouraged to study at home.
The rest of the country stays at Alert Level 2, under which businesses and schools are back to normal, with mask-wearing being mandatory in certain settings and gatherings limited to 50 people in size.
The country also reported two cases in recent returnees, and they have remained in quarantine in Auckland, according to the health ministry.
The total number of confirmed cases in New Zealand since the start of the pandemic was 3,779, Bloomfield said.