Jacinda Ardern announces a seven-day lockdown in New Zealand’s largest city after authorities detected a community case of unknown origin.
New Zealand’s largest city Auckland began its second lockdown in a month on Sunday as health authorities attempt to contain a cluster of the most contagious coronavirus variant first identified in the UK.
The seven-day lockdown of the city of nearly two million people came exactly one year after New Zealand recorded its first case of the coronavirus.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the measure late on Saturday, after a new case of the coronavirus was located in the community that could not be directly linked to previous cases.
The case involved a 21-year-old student who had been contagious for a week but who had not been isolated.
“Despite our best efforts to date, recent cases have gone to work when they shouldn’t have been,” Ardern said in a televised press conference. “It is more than likely that there will be other cases in the community.”
Sunday’s lockdown follows a three-day stay-at-home order in mid-February after a local emergence of the UK variant of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. There are now about 14 cases related to the cluster.
“COVID is killing people. We must never lose sight of the reasons why we are taking these measures – it is to save the lives of our people and our livelihoods, ”said Ardern.
Judith Collins, Leader of the Opposition, has called for tougher penalties for those who do not follow public health advice on isolation.
“Nobody wants to be yo-yo-ing and locked out,” Collins said in a statement.
The new lockdown, with level 3 restrictions, allows people to leave the house only for essential shopping and work. Public places will remain closed.
Restrictions in the rest of the country will be tightened to level 2, including limits on public gatherings.
The measures complicated several high-visibility sporting events planned in Auckland.
The organizers of the America’s Cup yacht race said on Sunday that the head-to-head final between Italy and New Zealand, which was due to start on March 6, has been postponed to at least March 10.
New Zealand Twenty20 International’s fourth cricket match against Australia has been moved to Wellington where it will be played behind closed doors on Friday.
Some social media users around the world have expressed dismay at the loud response that would lock down a major city for just one case, with one Twitter user writing, “They’re crazy.”
However, swift public health measures often implemented over the past year, coupled with aggressive contact tracing and border closures, have enabled New Zealand to successfully prevent the spread of the pandemic. coronavirus.
New Zealand, with a population of five million, has recorded just over 2,000 cases of the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic and 26 deaths.