Just a few days after announcing that it had been COVID-19-free for 100 days, New Zealand reported a reemergence of the coronavirus.
Four people from one family in South Auckland tested positive for coronavirus, the Ministry of Health announced Tuesday. In response, Auckland will be placed on a brief “Alert Level Three” lockdown, beginning Wednesday at noon. The rest of the country will enter “Level Two.” The lockdown is set to be lifted at midnight on Friday.
Public spaces including bars and restaurants are closing and travel to and from the city is being shut down, except for those returning home. Everyone besides essential workers is encouraged to work from home at this time. In the rest of the country, gatherings of more than 100 people are temporarily banned and public spots must accommodate social distancing.
"These three days will give us time to assess the situation, gather information, make sure we have widespread contact tracing so we can find out more about how this case arose and make decisions on how to respond to it once we have further information,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardem said in a press conference, The Associated Press reported.
“The health system is well prepared for this eventuality – and the important thing now is that we don’t let the virus spread in our community,” the Ministry of Health said in a press release. “As we did in the early days of this virus emerging, we need to stamp it out.”
New Zealanders are encouraged to frequently wash their hands, wear face masks while in public and practice social distancing. The government has also released a contact tracing app, which encourages New Zealanders to “check in” and log their travel information.
It is unclear where the four new cases came from. No one in the infected family had any known international travel. All close contacts of the family have been tested and ordered to remain in self-isolation for 14 days.
Life in New Zealand had largely returned to normal before the announcement. By June, nearly all restrictions had been lifted — except for the country’s borders remaining closed to foreign arrivals.
At the time of the announcement, there were still 23 active COVID-19 cases in New Zealand. The country has reported a total of 1,223 cases of COVID-19, with the majority of cases reported in April and May.
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