New COVID-19 Cases In China, New Zealand Sound Pandemic Alarm

Two women wear protective suits as they walk on a street near the closed Xinfadi market in Beijing on June 13, 2020. GREG BAKER / AFP

 

More than two dozen new coronavirus cases in China and the first New Zealand infections in almost a month on Tuesday underlined the immense challenges still ahead in containing the deadly pandemic, even as some EU nations reopened their borders to fellow Europeans.

More than eight million people have now been infected with the virus worldwide since it first emerged in China late last year — with more than 435,000 deaths — and the tolls are still surging in Latin America and South Asia.

Caseloads have declined across Europe, however, and governments are keen to ease lockdowns that have saved lives but devastated economies — despite experts warning that restrictions will be required until a vaccine or effective treatment is developed.

The latest reminder of the threat came on Tuesday from China, which had largely brought its outbreak under control, as 27 new infections were reported in Beijing, where a new cluster linked to a wholesale food market has sparked mass testing and neighbourhood lockdowns.

“The epidemic situation in the capital is extremely severe,” Beijing city spokesman Xu Hejian warned, as the number of confirmed infections soared to 106.

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And New Zealand reported its first cases in almost a month — two recent arrivals from Britain — prompting authorities to start tracing their movements.

The South Pacific nation had declared last week that it had ended community transmission of the virus.

While these cases have caused concern about the possibility of a full-blown resurgence in countries that have suppressed their outbreaks, the disease is gaining a worrying momentum in other regions with massive populations.

Known infections in India have crossed 330,000, and authorities already stretched by the COVID-19 outbreak are bracing for the monsoon season, which causes outbreaks of illness such as dengue fever and malaria every year.

With more than three decades as a doctor in India’s chronically underfunded public healthcare system, Vidya Thakur — medical superintendent at Mumbai’s Rajawadi Hospital — is used to managing “heavy burdens”.

But now, she says, “COVID-19 has left us helpless… and the monsoon will make things even more difficult.”

– Oscars postponed –

In Latin America, countries are struggling to contain the disease while trying to ease the crushing economic blow dealt by widespread lockdowns and social distancing measures.

Peru reported its economy shrank by more than 40 percent year-on-year in April, while Chile extended its state of emergency by three months as it struggles with a controversy over how it is counting COVID-19 deaths.

In the United States, the world’s worst-hit nation, there have been flare-ups in some states.

But President Donald Trump’s administration insists there will be no new economic shutdown even if a second wave hits.

A return to normal still looks distant, however, with the Oscars postponed by two months, the latest casualty of an already interrupted sports and entertainment calendar.

– Borders reopen in Europe –

After a gradual drop in new cases, European nations including Belgium, France, Germany and Greece lifted border restrictions hoping to boost tourism and travel over the summer months.

In Spain, a planeload of German tourists flew to the Balearic islands in an experimental pilot project.

In Brussels, Joy Kamel, a student travelling to join her father in France, waited to board a flight to Marseille.

“It’s been five months since I’ve seen him,” she told AFP. “I’m in the middle of exams, but since I’m taking them online, I might as well take advantage.”

New Zealand Reports Fresh COVID-19 Cases After 25 Days

(File photo) TARSO SARRAF / AFP

 

 

New Zealand reported its first new cases of coronavirus in almost a month on Tuesday when two recent arrivals from Britain tested positive after being released early from quarantine to visit a dying relative.

The South Pacific nation, which has recorded only 22 deaths among a population of five million, declared last week it had eliminated community COVID-19 transmission — allowing it to relax social distancing measures and rely on strict border controls.

One of the two women — who travelled from Britain via Doha and Brisbane — showed mild symptoms after landing at Auckland airport on June 7, but her symptoms were ascribed to a pre-existing condition, local media reported.

The pair were allowed to leave two-week isolation early on June 13 on compassionate grounds and drove by car to Wellington, making contact with no one on the way, health department director-general Ashley Bloomfield said.

He said they tested positive after arriving in Wellington and were in isolation, along with the only relative they had contact within the capital.

Officials immediately began tracking anyone that came in contact with the pair, aged in their 30s and 40s.

Bloomfield said he was not fearful the cases could lead to a fresh outbreak because systems were in place to trace their movements.

“A new case is something we hoped we wouldn’t get, but it’s also something we expected and have planned for,” he told reporters.

Contract tracing teams were testing aircrews and passengers, airport staffers, and hotel employees to ensure they were COVID-free.

He said that as a result of the case rules had been tightened to ensure people were only allowed out of quarantine on compassionate grounds after testing negative.

New Zealand’s borders are open only to returning Kiwis and their families, besides some exceptions for business and compassionate grounds.

Travellers must undergo two weeks mandatory quarantine, unless granted special permission.

The country declared last week that it had eliminated community transmission of COVID-19.

As a result, domestic restrictions including social distancing requirements and limits on public gatherings were lifted, although strict border controls remain.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday she had not declared the country virus-free because “New Zealand will have cases again in the future”.

“Of course, our hope and expectation are that should be at the border… if they’ve quarantined, of course, that’s a very different story than in the community”.

AFP

New Zealand Cuts Research To Keep Antarctica COVID-19 Free

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks during a press conference about the COVID-19 coronavirus at Parliament in Wellington on June 8, 2020. – New Zealand has no active COVID-19 cases after the country’s final patient was given the all clear and released from isolation, health authorities said on June 8. Marty MELVILLE / AFP.

 

New Zealand said Tuesday it will reduce its scientific projects in Antarctica to keep the virtually uninhabited continent free from COVID-19.

Antarctica New Zealand, the government agency that does environmental research on the desolate landmass and the Southern Ocean, said limiting the number of people visiting was key to stopping the spread of the coronavirus.

The agency said it had decided to support “only long-term science monitoring, essential operational activity and planned maintenance this season” at its Scott Base after consulting other research programmes in the region.

According to reports, the number of projects was being cut from 36 to 13 across the upcoming research season from October to March.

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“Antarctica New Zealand is committed to maintaining and enhancing the quality of New Zealand’s Antarctic scientific research,” Chief Executive Sarah Williamson said.

“However, current circumstances dictate that our ability to support science is extremely limited this season.”

Antarctica New Zealand said it was developing a managed isolation plan with multiple government agencies to ensure COVID-19 does not reach the continent.

Scott Base is New Zealand’s only Antarctic research station and is 3,800 kilometres (2,360 miles) south of Christchurch and 1350 km (840 miles) from the South Pole, according to Antarctica New Zealand.

Up to 86 scientists, staff and visitors can usually stay there at any one time.

AFP

New Zealand PM Criticises Protesters For Flouting COVID-19 Rules

New Zealand protesters hold a vigil against the killing of Minneapolis man George Floyd in a Black Lives Matter protest outside Parliament in Wellington on June 1, 2020. David Lintott / AFP

 

 

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Tuesday criticised Black Lives Matter protesters for flouting social distancing rules when the country is on the verge of eliminating the coronavirus, with just one active case remaining.

The centre-left leader said she sympathised with people who marched in New Zealand cities on Monday to protest the death of US man George Floyd, an African-American, at the hands of a white police officer.

But she was concerned that large crowds — estimated at about 2,000 in Auckland — could undermine New Zealand’s success in fighting the virus as they stood shoulder-to-shoulder in solidarity with US protesters.

“We are in a global pandemic and I would hate for there to be an outbreak caused by someone who felt really moved to go and share their view to then become ill,” she told TVNZ.

“That’s exactly what we’re trying to prevent… if we had one person, in that crowd (with coronavirus) just think what could happen.”

New Zealand, with a population of five million, has recorded just 1,154 cases of COVID-19 with 22 deaths, after imposing a strict seven-week lockdown that ended last month.

The most recent new infection was recorded on May 22 and only one person is regarded as an active case, a woman in her 50s linked to a cluster at an Auckland nursing home.

However, social distancing rules remain in place, and gatherings are limited to 100 people as a precaution in case there are undetected infections in the community.

Ardern’s deputy Winston Peters — a coalition partner from the populist New Zealand First Party — called for the organisers of Monday’s protests to be prosecuted.

“The fact that some people think they’re above the law is not an acceptable circumstance, that’s what’s at issue here,” he told Radio New Zealand.

Ardern said prosecutions were an operational matter for the police, pointing out that the force generally tried to educate virus rule-breakers rather than immediately pressing charges.

New Zealand is currently on level two of its four-tier virus alert system and Ardern said that could change as early as next week, essentially removing domestic restrictions while maintaining strict border controls.

“If and when we move to alert level one we’d be on our own almost in terms of the restrictions that would then be gone,” she said.

AFP

New Zealand Says COVID-19 Will Not Stop September Election

New Zealand Bans Assault Weapons After Christchurch Massacre
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks to journalists during a press conference at the Justice Precinct in Christchurch on March 20, 2019. Marty MELVILLE / AFP

 

New Zealand’s Electoral Commission unveiled safety measures Tuesday designed to allow a national election to proceed as planned in September despite the coronavirus threat.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the September 19 election date in January, before the global scale of the contagion was apparent, and has repeatedly said she does not plan to move it.

With New Zealand set to end a seven-week lockdown in the coming days, the Electoral Commission said it had held discussions with health authorities about how to stage the vote safely.

“This year’s election will be different because of COVID-19, a range of measures will be in place to help keep people safe,” it said.

Chief electoral officer Alicia Wright said these included queue management, physical distancing, hand sanitisers alongside ballot boxes and protective gear for people staffing voting stations.

Advance voting and postal voting will be encouraged, particularly for the elderly and those with existing medical conditions.

The guidelines did not cover other election activities such as campaign launches, party rallies and door-to-door canvassing, all of which are likely to be significantly affected.

Ardern said she had only considered the election “in passing” as she deals with the COVID-19 crisis.

READ ALSO: Virus Hope In US As WHO Hails Global Progress

“The election feels — in terms of days, weeks and months — a lifetime away,” she told reporters on Tuesday.

“As you’d imagine in the middle of a global pandemic, it’s not something that I have yet turned my mind to.”

Opinion polls taken earlier this year before the pandemic reached New Zealand showed Ardern’s centre-left Labour Party trailing the conservative National Party slightly but on track for a narrow victory with the help of coalition partners.

Since then, the 39-year-old leader has won global praise for her decisive coronavirus response, which has seen the nation of five million record only 21 deaths.

No opinion polls have been officially released during New Zealand’s lockdown but leaked research by Labour’s pollster, UMR, last month had Ardern’s party heading for a landslide, with 55 percent support to National’s 29 percent.

It put Ardern’s approval rating as preferred prime minister at 65 percent.

New Zealand will hold two referendums alongside the September 19 election on legalising cannabis and allowing euthanasia.

AFP

New Zealand To End COVID-19 Lockdown

Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern (C) with New Zealand Police Superintendent Bruce Bird (L) and Whakatane Mayor Judy Turner (R) speak to the media about the eruption of Whakaari/White Island during a press conference in Whakatane on December 10, 2019. Marty MELVILLE / AFP.

 

New Zealand will phase out its coronavirus lockdown over the next 10 days after successfully containing the virus, although some restrictions will remain, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Monday.

Ardern said that from Thursday shopping malls, restaurants, cinemas and playgrounds will reopen — with the country moving to Level Two on its four-tier system.

The 39-year-old leader warned “none of us can assume COVID is not with us” but said New Zealand currently had only 90 active cases after a seven-week lockdown.

“Your efforts New Zealand have got us to this place ahead of most of the world and without the carnage that COVID has inflicted in many other places,” she said in a televised address.

“But there are risks ahead, so please be vigilant.”

New Zealand, with a population of five million has recorded 1,147 coronavirus cases, including 21 deaths.

The number of new cases has been in single digits since mid-April, with three new infections recorded on Monday.

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Under Level Two restrictions, international borders remain closed but life domestically will return to something approaching normality.

While social distancing must still be followed, the advice that people isolate themselves at home and “stick to your bubble” will no longer apply.

“This is a transition out of our bubbles, you can see people you haven’t seen in a while, you just can’t do it all at once,” Ardern said.

“At Level Two we are out and about again, just about all parts of the economy are opening up again.”

The lockdown was first eased two weeks ago, allowing food takeaways and resumption of some recreational activities, but the freedoms granted by the latest relaxation will be far greater.

Those aged over 70 will be allowed out again after more than seven weeks of mandatory quarantine.

Domestic travel will be allowed, providing a boost to the crippled tourism industry and schools will fully reopen next Monday.

Bars will not be back in business until May 21, giving them extra time to ensure they can keep patrons properly separated.

Team sport will also return, with planning already underway to start a domestic version of Super Rugby on June 13 involving the competition’s five New Zealand-based teams.

Ardern said the move to Level Two would be reassessed after two weeks, with further easing possible depending on developments.

AFP

COVID-19: Israel Adesanya Donates Equipment To Lagos, New Zealand

A file photo of UFC Middleweight Champion, Israel Adesanya. Photo: Twitter- @stylebender

 

UFC middleweight world champion, Israel Adesanya, has donated personal protective equipment (PPE) to Lagos State in the fight against COVID-19.

The Nigerian-born mixed martial art is also donating 10,000 three-ply face masks and 1000 eye protection face masks for health workers in Whanganui, New Zealand where he grew up.

Also, New Zealand is also donating PPE to Auckland, where he lives in New Zealand to help them in the fight against COVID-19.

When praised about the development, Israel told a follower on Twitter: “Don’t tell anyone though. I’m just tryna be “humble.”

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The New Zealand Sportsman of the Year for 2019, was quoted on the Whanganui District Health Board website as saying that “I can’t do it for the whole world, but I can help the communities I know – the places that I have been a part of.”

According to the board, the materials worth thousands of dollars will be delivered to the Whanganui District Health Board within two weeks.

While commending Adesanya’s move, the Whanganui DHB Chief Executive, Russell Simpson, said the UFC champion has the DHB staff and the healthcare community at heart as they tackle COVID-19.

“The DHB is extremely grateful that Israel has DHB staff and the healthcare community in his thoughts as we fight against COVID-19,” Russell said in a statement on the board’s website. “On behalf of all of the staff at Whanganui DHB, we thank him for his generous donation.”

Adesanya has lived in Whanganui since he was a teenager.

His family still stays there with his mum, Tai, working as a nurse in the emergency department at the Whanganui Hospital.

Serena Ends Three-Year Title Drought, Gives Winnings To Bushfire Appeal

Serena Williams of the US reacts and poses with trophy after winning against Jessica Pegula of the US during their women’s singles final match during the Auckland Classic tennis tournament in Auckland on January 12, 2020. MICHAEL BRADLEY / AF

 

 

Serena Williams ended a three-year title drought and donated her winner’s cheque to victims of the Australian bushfires in an emotional WTA Auckland Classic final on Sunday.

Williams raised expectations for this month’s Australian Open, where she can equal Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam titles, with her 6-3, 6-4 victory — her first WTA trophy since she won in Melbourne in 2017.

But the 38-year-old tempered celebrations as she donated her US$43,000 winners cheque to the Australian bushfire relief fund and described how the tragedy had affected her deeply.

“I’ve been playing in Australia for over 20 years and it’s been really hard for me to watch all the news and everything that has been happening in Australia with all the fire and… animals and people that have lost their homes,” she said.

“I decided at the beginning of the tournament… I’d donate all my prize money for a great cause.”

It is Williams’ first title since 2017 — and her first as a mother — since she won the Australian Open while pregnant. Her 73 WTA titles now stretch across four decades, after she won her first in 1999.

The tournament top seed slipped 1-3 behind in the first set against the unseeded Pegula, a fellow American.

But once she found her range there was never any doubt about the final result, which Williams greeted by raising her arms in triumph while her husband Alexis Ohanian and two-year-old daughter Olympia looked on.

“It’s been a long time, I think you could see the relief on my face,” she said, adding she could feel her game sharpening up as she prepares to head to Melbourne.

“It definitely feels good, it feels like i was definitely improving as the week went on and obviously I needed to.”

Yelling with every point

Pegula, who has only one title to her credit, had stunned former world number one Caroline Wozniacki — a close friend of Williams — in a three-set semi-final, winning every game in the deciding set.

The 25-year-old continued in the same fearless vein at the start of the final, seemingly untroubled by her heavily bandaged left thigh as she chased down everything Williams delivered and even broke Williams’ first serve.

Pegula held her own serve and appeared set to break again when Williams, by this stage yelling with every point she won, fought back from 15-40 to hold her second serve on the fifth deuce.

Williams eventually achieved a break of her own to level at 3-3, finding the power and precision that had deserted her until then.

With her confidence boosted, Williams held to love in the next game, broke Pegula again and then served to clinch the first set.

Pegula was down 0-40 at the start of the second set before rallying to hold serve but the strain of facing the player who has dominated women’s tennis for two decades was showing.

Williams broke on Pegula’s next service game and stayed in front until the end of the set to take the title and end a sequence of five defeats in finals since her 2017 win in Melbourne.

No Longer Angry Serena Glad To Be Back In New Zealand

Serena Williams of the US serves against Qiang Wang of China during their Women’s Singles Quarter-finals tennis match during the 2019 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York on September 3, 2019. DOMINICK REUTER / AFP

 

Serena Williams returns to the Auckland WTA Classic on Monday for the first time since her “miserable” debut appearance two years ago, determined to put the record straight.

“I’m in a really different frame of mind,” she said ahead of her opening match on day one — a marquee doubles appearance partnering Caroline Wozniacki — with her first-round singles against long-time rival Svetlana Kuznetsova expected on Tuesday.

The 38-year-old Williams is banking on Auckland setting her up for an unprecedented 24th major title at the Australian Open later in the month.

Williams was way below par when she played in Auckland in 2017, complaining about the windy conditions, being abrupt in interviews and could not wait to get out of the country as soon as she lost in the second round to Madison Brengle.

But she says the anger she felt then has gone.

“I’m not pregnant, as a start, so that works, so I can only do good now,” the tournament top seed and world number 10 joked with journalists as she reflected on how she was unaware at the time that she was six weeks pregnant with her daughter Alexis Olympia.

“I just remember it was windy and being angry, hating my now husband (Alexis Ohanian). I was like ‘I can’t stand you and I don’t know why,'” she said.

“Obviously at the time I didn’t know why either … I was six weeks pregnant and I had no idea. So looking back it’s so surreal and crazy and now that I’m here, I have all of these funny memories of being miserable.

“I always knew that I would have to come back, for sure. I didn’t even realize what was happening, and now I’m here with my daughter.

“This is kind of where it all began. It’s amazing. It’s so exciting to be here with her, and to know that this is literally where it started.”

Despite her quick exit in 2017, Williams went on to win the Australian Open for her 23rd major title, but has not won a tournament since.

Williams, who has a 10-3 record against Kuznetsova in a 16-year rivalry, said she was pleased to be playing her “really good friend” first up.

“I like to play really tough opponents in the first round, and there’s no better way to start than to start serious. I really love her and adore her, and I wish it could’ve been a little bit later, for both of us,” she said.

She was also looking forward to playing with former world number one Wozniacki in the doubles, calling the Dane “one of my best friends”.

Meanwhile, the Auckland tournament has been hit with the late withdrawal of seventh seed Jelena Ostapenko who pulled out for “personal reasons”.

The 22-year-old Latvian, who won the French Open in 2017, is the second high-profile withdrawal with Canadian Bianca Andreescu pulling out last month due to her ongoing knee problems.

Andreescu defeated Williams to claim the US Open title in September last year.

Labuschagne Hits Ton Against New Zealand

Australia’s Marnus Labuschagne plays a shot during the first day of the third cricket Test match between Australia and New Zealand at the Sydney Cricket Ground in Sydney on January 3, 2020.
JEREMY NG / AFP

 

Marnus Labuschagne hit his fourth century in just 14 Tests to guide Australia into a commanding position against virus-hit New Zealand on the opening day of the third Test in Sydney on Friday.

The rock-solid number three, last year’s leading Test scorer with 1,104 runs at 64.94, again proved the Black Caps’ nemesis with his second ton of the series to continue his remarkable scoring sequence.

Supported by Steve Smith’s 28th Test half-century, Australia reached stumps at 283 for three with Labuschagne unbeaten on 130 and Matthew Wade a breezy 22 not out.

The South African-born Labuschagne has now scored four centuries in seven Test innings this southern summer against Pakistan and New Zealand.

“Terrific day,” he said. “When you bat on day one you know it can be a real prosperous day but if you get off to a shaky start it can be tough work.

“It’s all a bit of a whirlwind at the moment. I haven’t really sat down and completely thought about how amazing this summer has been for me.”

Smith, who took 39 balls to get off the mark, shared in a 156-run stand with Labuschagne before he again missed out after a lengthy stay and was caught at slip off Colin de Grandhomme for 63 off 182 balls.

David Warner fell again to the leg-side trap on the third ball after lunch when he was caught by de Grandhomme at leg gully off Neil Wagner for 45.

It was the fourth time in the series left-armer Wagner has snared Warner, who has yet to reach a half-century against New Zealand this summer after scoring an unbeaten 335 and 154 against Pakistan last November.

Opener Joe Burns was dismissed in the 15th over, squared up by de Grandhomme and caught by Taylor at first slip for 18.

De Grandhomme opened the bowling with Matt Henry after senior paceman Tim Southee was surprisingly left out of the attack.

Australia won the toss and chose to bat against the visitors, who made five changes to the team that lost the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne by 247 runs.

Illness woes 

The Black Caps went into the Sydney Test without skipper and star batsman Kane Williamson, who has been ill in the lead-up.

Batsman Henry Nicholls and spinner Mitchell Santner were other illness withdrawals while Southee lost his place to leg-spinner Todd Astle.

Paceman Trent Boult is also missing after returning home with a broken hand suffered in the second Test in Melbourne.

Batsman Glenn Phillips, who made a late dash to Sydney as cover on Thursday, was named to make his Test debut, with opener Tom Latham to lead the side in Williamson’s absence.

Will Somerville, Matt Henry and Jeet Raval were also called into the side, while the Australians were unchanged after considering Mitchell Swepson as a second spinner.

Australia have been unbeatable this season, winning all four Tests at home — two each against Pakistan and New Zealand — after retaining the Ashes in England.

The Test is being played against the backdrop of one of Australia’s most devastating bushfire seasons with at least 18 people losing their lives in blazes raging across the country, including on the outskirts of Sydney.

Play will be suspended in the match at the umpire’s discretion, should smoke significantly affect air quality or visibility, but the sky above the ground was clear during the first day’s play.

Two Dead, 2,500 Seek Emergency Shelter In Cyclone-Battered Fiji

 

 

Tropical Cyclone Sarai was moving slowly away from Fiji on Sunday, leaving two people dead and more than 2,500 needing emergency shelter.

The cyclone damaged houses, crops and trees, cut power and forced the cancellation of several international flights, stranding holidaymakers visiting the island nation, which is a major tourist draw.

National Disaster Management Office director Vasiti Soko said an 18-year-old student drowned off the island of Kadavu.

“The man is believed to have been swept away by strong currents when he was swimming with his friends,” she said.

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The body of a man in his 40s was found on Sunday off the coast of the main island Viti Levu a day after he was swept away by strong currents when crossing a river.

Another person was in intensive care in hospital after being hit by a falling tree.

Soko said that at the height of the storm, there were 2,538 people packed into 70 evacuation centres although by Sunday evening 500 had been cleared to return home.

Electricity was restored to 80 percent of the capital Suva but power company Energy Fiji Limited said it could take a week to restore supplies to all areas of Viti Levu.

Sarai, maintaining winds of up to 150 kilometres per hour (93 miles per hour), was tracking east and was expected to pass over Tonga on New Year’s Eve.

Death Toll In New Zealand Volcano Eruption Rises To 18

File Photo

 

The death toll from New Zealand’s White Island volcano eruption rose to 18 Sunday, including two people whose bodies have not been recovered, police said.

A land search early Sunday failed to find any sign of the missing pair and divers returned to the sea in the afternoon amid increasing speculation both could be in the water.

Deputy police commissioner Mike Clement said there was “every chance” the bodies had been washed into the sea from the stream where they were last seen Monday.

He added that searchers were “satisfied that the area we searched near the jetty is clear of the bodies”.

“The rescue teams are frustrated. We understand completely how frustrating it is for loved ones who want the bodies back,” Clement said.

Forty-seven people were on the island — a popular tourist attraction — when the explosion happened.

The death toll now stands at 18 after an Australian victim who had been repatriated to Sydney died in hospital almost a week after the deadly eruption.

Another 26 survivors remain in New Zealand and Australian hospitals, of which at least 18 are listed as “critical” and fighting for their lives after the eruption on the desolate island, which is the country’s most active volcano.

The family of the latest victim have requested his name and age not be released.

Police on Sunday named seven victims who have been officially identified including New Zealand tour guide Tipene James Te Rangi Ataahua Maangi, 24.

Four were Australians — Zoe Ella Hosking, 15, her stepfather Gavin Brian Dallow, 53, 51-year-old Anthony James Langford and Karla Michelle Mathews, 32 — along with Matthew Robert Hollander, 13 and Berend Lawrence Hollander, 16, who were US citizens with Australian permanent residency.

Clement said although the land and sea searches had so far been unsuccessful in finding the remaining bodies, police had not given up hope.

“There will come a time when we’ve done everything we can do, when we’ve done everything that’s sensible but we’re not there yet… we don’t give up easily,” he said.

Scientists monitoring White Island said there had been no further significant activity since last Monday’s eruption but the risk remained with the volcano alert at Level Two, which indicates “moderate to heightened unrest with potential for eruption hazards”.

A glow was visible from the vent area overnight “which confirms there is a high heat flow present,” said Geoff Kilgour, a volcanologist with GNS Science, which monitors seismic and volcanic activity in New Zealand.

“This has been confirmed today by an aerial observation this morning that noted an active crater is emitting volcanic gas at a high rate and very high temperature” above 200 degrees Celsius (392 degrees Fahrenheit).

The disaster has raised questions about why tourists were allowed on a volcano where experts had recently raised threat levels.