Daily US Times: After recording four new Covid-19 cases, New Zealand has put its largest city back into lockdown, ending a 102-day streak without a local infection.
After the cases were confirmed, a three-day lockdown was swiftly imposed in Auckland.
The four new cases are all members of a single family and none had travelled recently, according to reports.
The restrictions come into effect on Wednesday, as authorities scramble to trace contacts of the family.
Auckland residents will be asked to stay at home, non-essential businesses will be shut, large gatherings will be banned and some social-distancing restrictions will be reintroduced in the rest of the country.
Jacinda Ardern, the country’s Prime Minister, also on Wednesday deferred the dissolution of parliament, following the latest Covid-19 cases.
The dissolution of parliament is required to make way for a general election, has now been deferred until Monday.
Ms Ardern said no decision had yet been made on postponing the election – which was originally scheduled for 19 September.
According to a TVNZ report, she said:”We have some time to work through that.”
New Zealand has fought coronavirus better than other countries, recording 1,220 confirmed cases and 22 deaths since the virus arrived in late February.
New Zealand had gone 102 days without recording a locally transmitted case of Covid-19 before Tuesday, one of the few countries to reach such a milestone.
Before Tuesday’s announcement, all 22 active cases of the virus were among returning travellers quarantined in isolation facilities.
Praised internationally for its handling of the Covid-19 outbreak, New Zealand’s government had lifted almost all of its lockdown restrictions, first imposed in March.
Tough border restrictions, an early lockdown, effective health messaging and an aggressive test-and-trace programme have all been credited with virtually eliminating the virus in the country.
But as infections continue to rise across the world, New Zealand officials have warned against complacency. The global coronavirus cases surpassed 20 million on Tuesday.
Ms Ardern said while announcing the lockdown that it was necessary to go hard and go early to stamp out the virus.
Auckland is a city of around 1.6 million people. She said the city would move to level three restrictions from 12:00 local time (01:00 BST) on Wednesday as a “precautionary approach”.
Ms Ardern said the rest of the country would move to level two of New Zealand’s 4-tier alert system of measures against Covid-19.
“This is something we have prepared for,” she said at a news conference.
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