Auckland back in lockdown

World | REUTERS 12 Aug 2020

New Zealand announced yesterday it was shutting down its largest city, Auckland, after four new cases of Covid-19 were discovered in the city, the first evidence of domestic transmission after being coronavirus-free for 102 days.

New Zealand's successful fight against Covid-19 was hailed globally and the Pacific island nation of 5 million was seen as one of the safest places, as the pandemic raged globally.

Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said the four cases were within one family in South Auckland.

They had no history of international travel. Family members have been tested and contact tracing is under way.

News of the cases sent panic across the country with media reporting people rushing to supermarkets to stock up.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Auckland would move to level 3 restriction from noon today as a "precautionary approach," which would mean people should stay away from work and school, and gatherings of more than 10 people would again be restricted.

The restriction would be applied for three days until Friday, which she said would be enough time to assess the situation, gather information and make sure there was widespread contact tracing.

"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.

Ardern said the rest of New Zealand would enter alert level 2 from midday today for three days.

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.

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