New Zealand racing to search out supply of first new virus circumstances in additional than 100 days


Wellington, New Zealand — Well being authorities in New Zealand had been scrambling Wednesday to hint the supply of a brand new outbreak of the coronavirus, because the nation’s largest metropolis went again into lockdown.

Authorities had confirmed four cases of the virus in a single Auckland family from an unknown supply and had been awaiting the take a look at outcomes of 4 extra individuals they believe have infections – two work colleagues and two kinfolk of these in the home.

The circumstances this week had been the first known local transmission of the virus in New Zealand in 102 days.

The cluster got here as an disagreeable shock to many and raised questions on whether or not the nation’s common election would go forward as deliberate subsequent month.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern stated greater than 200 individuals with connections to these in the home had been contacted Wednesday.

“Our plan of mass testing, fast contact tracing and, after all, our restrictions to cease the chain of transmission has been in full swing in Auckland as we speak,” Ardern stated.

Police man a street block on the outskirts of Auckland as New Zealand’s largest metropolis moved to COVID-19 Alert Stage three on August 12, 2020.

Dean Purcell / AP

Investigations had been checking the chance that the virus was imported on freight.

Director-Basic of Well being Ashley Bloomfield stated one of many individuals who examined optimistic works at an Americold meals cold-storage facility in Auckland, which was being swabbed to test if it was attainable supply of the infections.

“We do know from research abroad that truly, the virus can survive in some refrigerated environments for fairly a while,” he stated.

Bloomfield stated two of the individuals who had examined optimistic had traveled to town of Rotorua whereas struggling signs over current days and had visited a number of vacationer points of interest.

“Folks in Rotorua and certainly across the nation ought to be vigilant about their well being and search recommendation if they’ve signs,” he stated.

Auckland was moved to Alert Stage three at noon Wednesday, a designation initially set to proceed by way of midnight Friday. Which means non-essential employees are required to remain house, whereas bars, eating places and most companies will likely be closed.

The remainder of the nation was moved to Alert Stage 2, which means mass gatherings are restricted to 100 attendees and individuals are required to socially distance themselves.

Bloomfield stated they’d use genome sequencing as a part of their effort to search out the supply of the brand new outbreak.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern stated she had labored rapidly to impose the Auckland lockdown measures after first studying in regards to the circumstances Tuesday afternoon.

She stated Aucklanders had been additionally “strongly inspired” however not mandated to put on masks, and that authorities had been releasing 5 million masks from a central provide. New Zealanders have not extensively worn masks earlier than, though authorities have been urging individuals to purchase them or trend them from scarves or bandannas simply in case.

The nation’s parliament was because of be dissolved Wednesday forward of a common election on Sept. 19 as lawmakers hit the marketing campaign path. However Ardern stated she was delaying the dissolution till a minimum of Monday in case lawmakers wanted to satisfy at brief discover. She stated she was additionally looking for recommendation about choices for the election.

Below New Zealand legislation, the federal government may delay the election for as much as about two months. The primary candidates have already cancelled most of their deliberate upcoming marketing campaign occasions.

The outbreak was discovered after a person in his 50s went to his physician Monday with signs and was swabbed twice, testing optimistic each instances. Three extra individuals in his family examined optimistic later.

The case has well being authorities scratching their heads, as the person hadn’t lately traveled abroad and had no instantly obvious reference to infections contained on the border.

Till Tuesday, the one recognized circumstances of the virus in New Zealand had been 22 vacationers held in quarantine after getting back from overseas.

New Zealand has been praised globally for its virus response and had simply celebrated reaching 100 days with none recognized group transmission.

The South Pacific nation of 5 million initially removed the virus by imposing a strict lockdown in late March when solely about 100 individuals had examined optimistic for the illness, stopping its unfold.

Life had returned to regular for many individuals as they attended rugby video games at packed stadiums and sat down in bars and eating places with out concern of getting contaminated. However some had warned that the nation had turn out to be complacent.


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