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The streets are nearly empty in the central business district of Wellington, New Zealand, Friday, Aug. 27, 2021. By early next week, New Zealanders should know if their government's strict new lockdown is working to stamp out its first coronavirus outbreak in six months. A successful effort could again make the nation's virus response the envy of the world. (AP Photo /Nick Perry)

New Zealand’s largest city will remain in lockdown for at least two more weeks, although some restrictions will be eased from Tuesday.

Auckland has been in the strictest form of lockdown for just over a month, the longest stretch since the pandemic began.

New Zealand has taken an unusual zero-tolerance approach to the coronavirus and has been trying to completely eliminate an outbreak of the delta variant. But the outbreak has proved stubborn, with the city continuing to report about 20 new local cases each day.

And the outbreak has spread beyond Auckland after an infected prisoner was bailed to his home in a small rural town.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she’s confident the lockdown is working and there isn’t widespread undetected transmission.

From Tuesday, Aucklanders will be able to buy takeaway restaurant food, and some workplaces can reopen. But most people will still be required to live and work from home, and schools will remain closed.

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MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:

— Same goal, different paths: U.S. and E.U. seek maximum vaccine rates

— Florida’s daily coronavirus cases drop from last month

— UN using honor system to check vaccinations for New York meeting

HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

WASHINGTON — The National Institutes of Health director says a government advisory panel’s decision to limit Pfizer COVID-19 booster shots to Americans 65 and older as well as those at high risk of severe disease is a preliminary step and predicts broader approval for most Americans “in the next few weeks.”

Dr. Francis Collins told “Fox News Sunday” that the panel’s recommendation Friday was correct based on a “snapshot” of available data on the effectiveness of Pfizer’s two-shot regimen over time. But he said real-time data from the U.S. and Israel continue to come in showing waning efficacy among broader groups of people that will need to be addressed soon.

Collins, who also appeared on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” said: “I think there will be a decision in the coming weeks to extend boosters beyond the list that they approved on Friday.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, on Sunday praised the advisory board’s plan for covering a “good chunk” of Americans. But he stressed that “this is not the end of the story” based on evolving data and said the recommendations will likely be expanded in the coming weeks to months.

The Food and Drug Administration will consider the advisory group’s advice and make its own decision, probably within days. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also is set to weigh in this week.

Zoe Nassimoff, of Argentina, looks at white flags that are part of artist Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg's temporary art installation, "In America: Remember," in remembrance of Americans who have died of COVID-19, on the National Mall in Washington, Friday, Sept. 17, 2021. Nassimoff's grandparent who lived in Florida died from COVID-19. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

 

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KATHMANDU, Nepal — Tens of thousands of devotees have packed the old palace courtyard in the heart of Nepal’s capital to celebrate the feast of Indra Jatra, marking the return of the festival season in the Himalayan nation after it was scaled down because of the pandemic.

Kumari, a young girl who is revered by both Hindus and Buddhists in Nepal as the living goddess, left her temple palace for the first time in two years and was driven around the center of Kathmandu in a wooden chariot pulled by devotees.

Nepal’s president and highest officials also lined up to get her blessing, together with the tens of thousands of others. Last year’s festivals were scaled down amid a surge in coronavirus cases.

Masked dancers perform during the annual Indra Jatra festival in Kathmandu, Nepal, Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021. The feast of Indra Jatra marks the return of the festival season in the Himalayan nation two years after it was scaled down because the pandemic. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)

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MACKINAW CITY, Mich — A popular Halloween-themed event held annually in northern Michigan has been cancelled this fall due to concerns over the coronavirus, including the rising number of cases of the delta variant in the area.

A medical worker in a booth takes a nasal sample from a disinfection worker during coronavirus testing at a makeshift testing site in Seoul, South Korea, Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021. The letters on a jacket read, "Disinfection." (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

 

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