New Zealanders will endure a further 12 days of COVID-19 lockdown conditions as the country fights to gain control of its coronavirus outbreak, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced.
Ms Ardern said Auckland would remain in Level 3 restrictions, while the rest of New Zealand will stay at Level 2.
“What is important is making sure we establish the perimeter of the cluster and stop it from growing,” she said.
The nation is currently battling a cluster in Auckland after a worker at a refrigerated transport company tested positive.
“It will grow before it slows,” the Prime Minister told media today.
“And it may continue to be linked to schools, churches and social gatherings, as it has done to date.”
She said in keeping with New Zealand’s “go hard and go early” philosophy, the government had decided to maintain COVID restrictions across the country, taking the lockdown period to a full 14 days in total.
At least 29 cases have been linked to the Auckland cluster, with two linked to the frozen storage facility – bringing that total to 13 cases.
It’s believed five cases are workers at the facility, while seven others are infected family members of employees.
The company is reportedly still awaiting test results from a further 14 other workers.
The virus has also spread elsewhere in the country, with two cases confirmed in Tokoroa, around 200km away from Auckland.
Health authorities fear the virus may have been spread via frozen food shipments across the country.
The PM moved to allay public fears with her appearance today, saying “There is nothing to suggest we need to move to a Level 4 lockdown”.
“Our intention is that Auckland and New Zealand will quickly move back down through alert levels if we continue on this track,” said Ms Ardern.
She said the lockdown measures would be reviewed on 21 August and, at this stage, would officially end on 26 August.