Tuesday, May 21, 2024

NZ back in lockdown with 4 new cases

New Zealand has recorded four confirmed cases of COVID-19 – the country’s first outbreak after a milestone 102 days without a single new case.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern tonight confirmed four members of a family of six had tested positive to the virus, saying the nation was prepared to fight any further spread of COVID-19 with renewed lockdown measures.

“We have a resurgence plan that we are now activating,” she said.

“That plan is based on everything that we have learned as a country to date about COVID-19.

“It’s also based on what we’ve seen from resurgence overseas.”

The New Zealand Health Department confirmed that the first infection was identified in a person aged in their 50s who presented to a local doctor and had since tested positive twice.

Three other family members also tested positive for COVID-19. The Department said the original case had no history of overseas travel. All close contacts and work colleagues across multiple workplaces have been tested and ordered into isolation.

Ms Ardern said a “rapid health response” would be activated in Auckland, with the city re-entering stage three lockdown restrictions from midday tomorrow for the next three days.

“In line with our precautionary approach, we will be asking Aucklanders to take swift action with us,” the Prime Minister said.

“Outside of Auckland, the rest of New Zealand will be placed back into stage two restrictions from midday tomorrow, meaning social distancing requirements apply and mass gatherings will be limited to 100 people.”

The renewed lockdown measures mean New Zealanders will be required to stay home unless leaving home for essential travel such as shopping for supplies or for exercise.

Aucklanders will be required to work from home unless they are essential staff, while schools will be shut down for everyone except for children of essential workers.

“One of the most important lessons we’ve learned from overseas is the need to go hard and go early and stamp out flare ups to avoid the risk of wider outbreak,” Ms Ardern said.

“As disruptive as it is, a strong and rapid health response remains the best long term economic response.”

The Prime Minister said the source of the infection remained unknown.

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