New Zealand optimistic for COVID-19 when alarmed as household take a look at: Coronavirus updates: NPR
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern addresses media issues during a COVID-19 press conference on February 14 in Wellington, New Zealand. Three new cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed in Auckland, the country’s largest city. Mark Tantrum / Getty Images Hide caption
Mark Tantrum / Getty Images
Mark Tantrum / Getty Images
After a family of three in New Zealand’s largest city tested positive for COVID-19, the city of Auckland has been locked – and the whole country is on high alert.
In a televised address on Sunday evening, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the country was following a “precautionary approach that has served us so well as a country.”
With just 2,330 confirmed cases and 25 deaths since the pandemic began, the island nation has been one of the most successful countries in the world in fighting the spread of the coronavirus. Much of this is due to quick and effective countermeasures when a new virus is discovered.
Most of the new cases are found in travelers arriving at the border who are then quarantined to prevent the community from spreading. But no one in the infected family had recently traveled, and authorities are investigating how the infection might have occurred. It’s the first new locally broadcast report of the virus in weeks.
A mother, father and daughter living in South Auckland tested positive and placed in a quarantine facility. A fourth family member had symptoms but had tested negative for the virus.
The mother works at LSG Sky Chefs and takes care of the laundry of international flights.
“As we continue to investigate all possible sources of transmission for these cases, we will be particularly interested in this workplace because of its obvious borderline links,” said Dr. Ashley Bloomfield, one of the leading health authorities in the country.
After meeting on Sunday evening, the country’s cabinet decided to put Auckland on “alert level 3” – the country’s second highest alert – for three days. During this time, officials will run a test flash to see if the virus has spread.
Auckland residents are asked to stay home wherever possible and comply with social distancing rules. Many businesses such as libraries, museums, gyms and cinemas will be closed.
A border will be set up around Auckland, but people will be able to cross the border by getting an exemption from the government, Ardern said.
The rest of the country will now switch to “Alert Level 2” for the same time. This requires physical distancing, larger company records, and the wearing of masks in public transit. Mass gatherings are limited to 100 people.
“We have eradicated the virus before and will do it again,” said Ardern. “We have a plan that works for our 5 million team and you have shown it time and time again.”