Coronavirus: New Zealand locks down Auckland after cases end 102-day run

Elias Hubbard
August 14, 2020

New Zealand was placed under a tight lockdown for weeks after reported its first known case on February 26 and the last case of community transmission was detected on May 1.

A three-day lockdown was swiftly imposed in Auckland after the cases were confirmed.

All four cases are members of one family from South Auckland. None had travelled recently.

Dr Bloomfield exercised an oral direction of the Public Health Act to require people from two workplaces in Auckland linked to the community cases to isolate at home and do not go to work until they have been contacted by public health officials.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Wednesday that more would be known about those sequencing results within 24 hours.

Parliament was due to be dissolved on Wednesday to allow the election to take place, but the centre-left leader held off the move until Monday to monitor how the crisis evolves.

Ms Ardern said they were looking for potential casual contacts in Rotorua and looking for the source in Auckland.

With 1.5 million people under stay-at-home orders, and millions more at risk of a wider outbreak, Ardern said she was seeking advice on delaying the September 19 election.

There have been 1,225 confirmed cases to date, it said, adding there are now 22 active cases, with five people having recovered over the past 24 hours.

The virus' return coincided with the Reserve Bank of New Zealand boosting its government bond-buying programme by NZ$40 billion ($26 billion) to NZ$100 billion in a bid to cushion the economy.

Praised internationally for its handling of the pandemic, the country's government had lifted nearly all of its lockdown restrictions, first imposed in March. "That closed-down border", Peacock said, with New Zealand being an island nation in more than one sense.

Microbiologist and associate professor Siouxie Wiles, from Auckland University, said each time the virus infected a cell there was an opportunity for "little mistakes" or changes to be made.

As a result of the infections, mobile phones nationwide received an emergency text that set off blaring alerts and said "if you are in Auckland STAY HOME. and SAVE LIVES".

The fact the family visited Rotorua reinforces why the whole country has moved to alert level 2, Ardern said.

"The idea that we would keep information back from the public when that is critical to us being able to look after their health and therefore their financial wellbeing and their just nonsense", she said.

"One of the most important lessons we have learned from overseas is the need to go hard and go early, and stamp out flare ups".

"We have a plan. And we have planned", she said.

"These three days will give us the time to assess, to gather information, to carry out widespread contact tracing so we can identify how this case arose", said Ms Ardern.

"We're expecting to see other cases", Dr Bloomfield said.

"We had all hoped not to find ourselves in this position again".

Ratings agency S&P Global said it retained a positive outlook for New Zealand, despite the re-occurrence of the virus.

She then briefed Ms Collins and Auckland Mayor Phil Goff before holding the 9.15pm press conference.

Despite their pleas, large crowds of shoppers were seen queuing at supermarkets on Tuesday night, as they attempted to stock up before lockdown.

Until Tuesday, the World Health Organisation had hailed New Zealand as an example to others for having "successfully eliminated community transmission".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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