(Bloomberg) -- New Zealand officials said they are investigating a new community case of Covid-19 in largest city Auckland, prompting some investors to pare bets on an interest-rate increase from the central bank.
The case was identified early Tuesday afternoon, the Ministry of Health said in an emailed statement. A link between the case and the border or managed isolation is yet to be established, it said. It made no comment on whether the case is the delta variant.The last case of community transmission was in February.
The case comes on the eve of the Reserve Bank’s review of the official cash rate, with the majority of economists forecasting a quarter percentage point hike in response to an overheating economy. An outbreak of the highly infectious delta strain of the virus could alter the economic outlook. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said the country should expect a swift lockdown response if there were signs that delta had got into the community.
The New Zealand dollar fell more than half a U.S. cent on the health ministry’s statement. It bought 69.62 U.S. cents at 3:28 p.m. in Wellington. Investors now see a 72% chance of the RBNZ raising rates on Wednesday, down from more than 100% yesterday, swaps data show.
New Zealand has run a successful elimination strategy, defined as having zero tolerance for new cases, which has limited the South Pacific nation to fewer than 2,600 confirmed cases and just 26 deaths.
Health officials today said ministers will meet this afternoon once additional information is gathered to confirm a response. Ardern is expected to hold a press conference at 6 p.m. in Wellington, news website Stuff reported.
“A hard and early response is the best tool to stamp out any potential spread and everyone in New Zealand is asked to staycalm, be kind and play their part while we gather more information on the potential case,” the ministry said. “In particular anyone in Auckland catching public transport this afternoon or who cannot socially distance in public spaces should wear a mask as a precaution.”
New Zealand passed 2.5 million vaccination doses earlier this week. Ardern yesterday said 40% of those aged 16 or more have had at least one dose.
(Updates with currency fall in fourth paragraph)
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