New Zealand’s streak of more than 100 days without local transmission of the coronavirus is now complete.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Tuesday that authorities have found four confirmed cases in an Auckland outbreak from an unknown source, prompting her to place the country’s largest city under a full three-day lockdown : people will be invited to stay in their homes, while bars and many other businesses will be closed.
“These three days will give us time to assess the situation, gather information, make sure we have a generalized contact tracing so that we can find out more about how this case came about and take action. decisions on how to respond once we have more information ”. Ardern said at a hastily organized press conference on Tuesday evening.
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“I know this information will be very difficult to receive,” said Ardern. “We had all hoped not to find ourselves in this position again. But we had also prepared for it. And as a team, we’ve been here before as well.
The new cases are the first local transmissions of the coronavirus in New Zealand in 102 days, according to the Associated Press.
Arden said as part of the lockdown measures, people will be banned from traveling to Auckland unless they live there.
She said the rest of the country will be raised to Level 2 until Friday, which means mass gatherings will be limited to 100 participants and people should socially distance themselves from each other.
Chief Health Officer Ashley Bloomfield said the infections were confirmed after a person in their 50s went to their doctor on Monday with symptoms and was washed twice, tested positive both times. Six other people in the person’s household were then tested, with three more positive results.
CORONAVIRUS HAS INFECTED OVER 20 MILLION PEOPLE WORLDWIDE
“Importantly, the person does not have a history of travel abroad,” Bloomfield said, adding that the source of the infections remains unknown.
Until Tuesday, the only known cases of the virus in New Zealand involved 22 travelers who had recently returned from overseas and quarantined at the border.
The country has been praised around the world for its response to the virus.
New Zealand first got rid of the virus by imposing a strict lockdown at the end of March, when only a hundred people had tested positive for the disease. It stopped its spread.
Life then returned to normal for many people in the South Pacific nation of 5 million, as they watched rugby matches in crowded stadiums and sat in bars and restaurants without fear of being infected. But some had warned that the country had become complacent.
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New Zealanders don’t wear masks regularly, but authorities have urged people to buy them just in case.
The outbreak comes less than six weeks before New Zealanders go to the polls in a general election.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.