Coronavirus: New Zealand locks down Auckland after cases end 102-day run
Author: The Winning Team
Posted Date: Tuesday,Aug 11, 2020
New Zealand has put its largest city back into lockdown after recording four new Covid-19 cases, ending a 102-day streak without a local infection.
A three-day lockdown was swiftly imposed in Auckland after the cases were confirmed.
The four new cases are all members of a single family. None had travelled recently.
The restrictions will come into effect on Wednesday, as authorities scramble to trace contacts of the family.
Auckland residents will be asked to stay at home, large gatherings will be banned, non-essential businesses will be shut, and some social-distancing restrictions will be reintroduced in the rest of the country.
New Zealand has fared better than other countries, recording 1,220 confirmed cases and 22 deaths since the virus arrived in late February.
"This is something we have prepared for," Ms Ardern said at a news conference.
"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.
Director-General of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield, said at least three days of lockdown were needed in Auckland to trace the source of the new cases.
"We're expecting to see other cases," Dr Bloomfield said. "We want to find those other cases as soon as possible and identify or isolate any contacts."
In anticipation of a pre-lockdown rush to supermarkets, Ms Ardern and the mayor of Auckland, Phil Goff, called for calm, saying there was no need to panic-buy.
Despite their pleas, large crowds of shoppers were seen queuing at supermarkets on Tuesday night, as they attempted to stock up before lockdown.
One video posted to social media shows customers streaming through the door of a supermarket as a security guard tries to prevent them from entering.
The World Health Organization (WHO) had hailed New Zealand as an example to others for having "successfully eliminated community transmission".
But other countries have had early success in suppressing the virus, only to see infections rise again after lifting lockdown restrictions that damaged the economy.
Vietnam went 99 days with no community transmission until July, when a 57-year-old man in Da Nang tested positive for the virus.
By the end of July, Da Nang was the epicentre of a new coronavirus outbreak, leading to the country's first coronavirus death since the pandemic began.
Australia, too, has seen a resurgence of Covid-19 in some states, including New South Wales and Victoria, where a strict lockdown has been imposed.