New Zealand's Auckland under lockdown as new Covid-19 cases emerge
The new cases are the first evidence of domestic transmission in New Zealand after the country was coronavirus-free for 102 days.
New Zealand announced on Tuesday that it was shutting down its largest city, Auckland, after four new cases of COVID-19 were discovered in the city. The new cases are the first evidence of domestic transmission in New Zealand after the country was coronavirus-free for 102 days.
????#Breaking: New Zealand has confirmed its first case of #Covid19 outside managed isolation for the first time in 102 days— Ashleigh Stewart (@Ash_Stewart_) August 11, 2020
Comes after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern scheduled an impromptu press conference with just a few minutes notice late at night in NZ
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Auckland would move to level 3 restriction from noon on Wednesday as a "precautionary approach", which would mean people should stay away from work and school. Additionally, gatherings of more than 10 people are again restricted. This will remain in place for three days, and the rest of the country will go to level 2 restrictions that include social distancing and limits on the size of gatherings. People were also urged not to rush to supermarkets to stack up.
“These three days will give us time to assess the situation, gather information, make sure we have widespread contact tracing so we can find out more about how this case arose and make decisions about how to respond to it once we have further information,” PM Arden said. “After 102 days, we have our first cases of Covid-19 outside of managed isolation or quarantine facilities... While we have all worked incredibly hard to prevent this scenario, we have also planned and prepared for it.”
BREAKING: Coronavirus has broken out again in New Zealand after 102 days.— SkyNews (@SkyNews) August 11, 2020
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced that new restrictions are going to be temporarily imposed in Auckland so health officials can "assess the situation".
Read more: https://t.co/Qi13tCs6Ql pic.twitter.com/Mj2qSGsZ7V
Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said the four confirmed cases were within one family. One person is in their 50s. They had no history of international travel. Family members have been tested and contact tracing is under way.
"This is something we have prepared for," Ardern said in a surprise news conference, adding that the increased caution was as the source of the virus was unknown.
"We have had 102 days and it was easy to feel New Zealand was out of the woods. No country has gone as far as we did without having a resurgence. And because we were the only ones, we had to plan. And we have planned," she said. Travel into Auckland, on the North Island, would be restricted unless you live there, she said.
According to TIME, until Tuesday, the only known cases of the virus in New Zealand were 22 travelers who had recently returned from abroad and were being held in quarantine at the border.
#NewZealand immediately responding to just 4 new cases of #COVID19 is a shining example of how the world SHOULD be responding to the pandemic. Alert level 3 in the capital and alert level 2 everywhere else with IMMEDIATE EFFECT. I applaud the NZ Gov and hope others learn from it— Sinister Pixel (@SinisterPixeLP) August 11, 2020
New Zealand marked 100 days without a domestic transmission of the coronavirus on Sunday, but warned against complacency as countries like Vietnam and Australia which once had the virus under control now battle a resurgence in infections.
Separately, a New Zealand retirement village in Christchurch, in the South Island, has gone into lockdown after residents displayed symptoms of respiratory illness, the New Zealand Herald reported on Tuesday.
(With input from agencies)