New Zealand health authorities hold fears for four potential coronavirus cases after its 102-day streak of no community transmission came to a surprise end on Tuesday.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the country’s chief executive of the Ministry of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield, revealed there has been another case for the country, as well as four more “probable” cases via community transmission.
Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon just hours after Auckland went into lockdown, Dr Bloomfield said the new confirmed case was in a “managed isolation facility” after arriving in the country from Pakistan via Dubai on August 7.
Worryingly, health authorities are awaiting test results of four people who may have contracted the virus in the community.
“There are also four additional probable cases who are people with symptoms linked to the four community based cases we talked about last night,” he said.
“They are all awaiting the [test] results and are in isolation.” Full contact tracing has begun for those four people, he added.
It comes after four members of an Auckland family tested positive for the virus on Tuesday, and it was later revealed they went on a weekend trip while infected. The family travelled from Auckland to Rotorua on the North Island on Saturday while symptomatic.
“The family visited a number of locations including eateries,” Dr Bloomfield told reporters Wednesday, saying authorities were working to trace their complete movements in order to notify the businesses and publish the information for the public.
Auckland has returned to Level 3 lockdown measures, while social distancing rules have been re-introduced for the rest of the country.
The city was placed in full lockdown for three days from midday on Wednesday (local time), with all residents to work from home unless they are essential workers.
“The fact that we have had some contact with the family that has been identified as having COVID, having travelled to another region, reinforces why the whole country has moved to Alert Level 2,” Ms Ardern said.
“This is, of course, everyone outside of Auckland, across the country, we’re asking for social distancing and we’re asking for those limits on mass gatherings.”
For three months, New Zealanders have enjoyed the return of usual freedoms after an autumn lockdown proved effective in eliminating the deadly virus and stopping any known community transmission.
The country’s total number of confirmed cases during the pandemic now sits at 1,225.
There are currently 22 active cases in the country, all in quarantine and none requiring hospital care.
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