New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that authorities have found four cases of the coronavirus in one Auckland household from an unknown source, the first reported cases of local transmission in the country in 102 days.
ARDERN said Auckland, the nation’s largest city, will be moved to Alert Level 3 from midday Wednesday until midnight Friday, meaning that people will be asked to stay at home, while bars and many other businesses will be closed.
“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 at a hastily called news conference late Tuesday.
“I know that this information will be very difficult to receive,” Ardern said. “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.”
In response, Auckland, on New Zealand’s North Island, will be placed into ‘Level Three’ restrictions from midday on Wednesday. Local residents are being urged to “stay home to stop the spread” of the disease and “act as if you have Covid, and as if the people around you have Covid”, said the PM.
New Zealanders have never routinely worn masks, but authorities have now been urging people to buy them just in case. This fresh outbreak comes less than six weeks before New Zealanders are due to go to the polls in a general election.