Auckland, New Zealand, is going back into lockdown for at least three days after several people tested positive for the coronavirus, the first cases detected among New Zealanders in over 100 days.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed the new outbreak of cases in a press conference on Tuesday. Four members of a family tested positive for the disease, and all infected were tested again to confirm, according to 9 News Australia.
“We have a resurgence plan that we are now activating,” Ardern 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.”
After an Auckland resident was confirmed to have the disease, authorities tested six other members of the patient’s family and found that three were infected. Authorities are still unsure how the disease may have reappeared as none of the infected have left the country recently.
In response to the positive tests, the infected have been placed in isolation and all of Auckland has been placed in level three lockdown for at least three days, barring residents from leaving their homes except for activities deemed essential.
“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 about how to respond to it once we have further information,” Ardern said. “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.
The rest of New Zealand will be placed under looser level-two restrictions, barring gatherings of over 100 people and instituting some social distancing measures at businesses and public spaces, according to CNN.
Authorities are conducting contact tracing on all close contacts, including coworkers, of the patients in an effort to track down the origin of the virus’s resurgence in New Zealand.
Officials began lifting strict lockdown measures and allowing businesses to reopen in May after several consecutive days of no positive tests. At the time, Ardern’s drastic actions to stop the spread of the virus were celebrated for seemingly stamping out the disease across New Zealand, although the country was not heavily seeded with the virus and peaked at 1,476 active cases.
After strict lockdown rules were lifted, The New York Times reported New Zealand’s apparent success fighting the disease in an article headlined, “Jacinda Ardern Sold a Drastic Lockdown With Straight Talk and Mom Jokes.”
“Ms. Ardern helped coax New Zealanders — “our team of five million,” she says — to buy into a lockdown so severe that even retrieving a lost cricket ball from a neighbor’s yard was banned,” the NYT reported. “Now the country, despite some early struggles with contact tracing, has very nearly stamped out the virus, exiting isolation with just 21 deaths and a few dozen active cases.”
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