New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden
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New Zealand reported its first locally transmitted coronavirus cases after 102 days.
Four people in one Auckland household tested positive after a person in their 50s went to the doctor with COVID-19 symptoms, Ashley Bloomfield, the country’s Director-General of Health, said. None of them had traveled outside New Zealand recently.
In response, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern reinstated Level 3 restrictions in Auckland for three days, closing public venues and schools, and asking people to stay home.
Level 2 restrictions have been reintroduced in the rest of New Zealand, limiting crowds to 100 people and requiring social distancing.
The South Pacific nation has been lauded for tamping down on the coronavirus strictly and early such that only 1,500 people have been infected and 22 have died.
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New Zealand has ended its 102-day streak of zero locally transmitted coronavirus cases.
Four people in the same Auckland home tested positive for COVID-19, forcing New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Tuesday to reintroduce coronavirus restrictions across the country.
New Zealand has reported 1,570 cases and 22 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Until Tuesday, the only known coronavirus cases were among 22 people who had returned to New Zealand from an overseas trip who are quarantined at the border, the Associated Press reported.
Ashley Bloomfield, the country’s director-general of health, said none of the newly infected people had traveled abroad recently.
The cases were recorded after a person in their 50s went to the doctor with COVID-19 symptoms. The patient underwent two nasal swab tests, both of which were positive. Six other residents of the same household were screened for the coronavirus and three tested positive, said Bloomfield, adding that the origin of the infections is still unknown, the AP said.
“In line with our precautionary approach, we will be asking Aucklanders to take swift actions with us,” Ardern said at a news conference late Tuesday.
Level 3 restrictions will be reintroduced in New Zealand’s most populous city as of 12 p.m. local time Wednesday and will remain in place through midnight on Friday.
“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,” Ardern said.
While health officials determine the extent of local transmission, non-essential businesses will be shut alongside schools and childcare facilities. Crowds of over 10 people will be banned and residents, who are urged to work from home, will only be permitted to leave for “essential movements,” like going to the grocery store.
Staying home will prevent people from both contracting and spreading the highly contagious coronavirus, Ardern said at a news conference.
Traveling into Auckland is also not permitted through the end of the week unless people live there and are returning home, she added.
The rest of New Zealand will be faced with Level 2 restrictions, Ardern announced. That means gatherings must be limited to 100 people, and public venues, including swimming pools and museums, can keep their doors open so long as they maintain records of visitors and enforce social distancing, CNN reported.
“I know that this information will be very difficult to receive. We had all hoped not to find ourselves in this position again. But we had also prepared for it. And as a team, we have also been here before,” Ardern said.
The South Pacific nation has been lauded for cracking down on the coronavirus in March when only about 100 people had tested positive. A strict lockdown prevented the infection from spreading among its roughly 5 million residents, AP reported.
As of August 11, countries around the world have recorded more than 20 million cases and at least 730,000 deaths from the coronavirus.
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