New Zealand: Auckland on lockdown as new coronavirus cases emerge
After being praised for its handling of the coronavirus outbreak, New Zealand has put its largest city Auckland back on lockdown. The fresh lockdown comes as four new cases of the viral infection were reported in the city. None of the four patients had traveled recently. In light of this development, the dissolution of parliament has been deferred until Monday. Here are more details.
Four new cases reported from same family
The four new coronavirus cases in Auckland are all members of the same family. Before the new cases were reported on Tuesday, New Zealand had gone 102 days without any locally-transmitted coronavirus cases. The 22 active cases were returning travelers who have been quarantined in isolation facilities. Since the outbreak began in New Zealand in late-February, 1,220 cases and 22 deaths have been reported.
Auckland on 3-day lockdown starting Wednesday
Starting Wednesday, Auckland has been put on a three-day lockdown. The city would move to level three restrictions on a four-tier alert system of measures against COVID-19 adopted by New Zealand. The rest of the country will move to level two restrictions. Effectively, Auckland residents will be asked to stay home, non-essential businesses will be shut, and large gatherings will be banned.
'We've beaten virus before; can do so again'
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, "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. Because we were the only ones, we had to plan. And we have planned." "Together we have beaten the virus before," she added. "We can do so again."
Officials say more cases expected as contact tracing is underway
New Zealand authorities have warned against complacency and Director-General of Health, Dr. Ashley Bloomfield, said they expect to see more cases. Dr. Bloomfield said that they will be tracing the contacts of the four new patients to identify the source of the infection. The country had earlier lifted almost all lockdown restrictions after declaring itself coronavirus free.
Ardern postponed dissolution of parliament
In light of the new cases, PM Ardern on Wednesday deferred the dissolution of parliament until Monday, which is the first step towards holding the general election. Ardern said no decision has yet been taken on postponing the elections, scheduled for September 19.