Auckland to remain under coronavirus restrictions for 12 more days

| 14.08,20. 08:27 PM |

Auckland to remain under coronavirus restrictions for 12 more days

PM Jacinda Ardern

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says Auckland will maintain its partial lockdown for another 12 days as officials try to contain the coronavirus outbreak in the city.

Ms Ardern told a press conference on Friday that maintaining the lockdown will help New Zealand to stamp out coronavirus once again.

She said there are signs New Zealand has caught the latest outbreak "relatively early in its life" and there was "nothing to suggest" that the city needed to move to level four restrictions.

According to Ms Ardern, all 29 cases of coronavirus in the country are linked to one cluster centred in Auckland, at this stage.

One other case is being investigated which is likely linked to the cluster.

Ms Ardern said more than 30,000 tests had been undertaken in the country over the past 48 hours, with 38 people linked to the cluster now in government-managed quarantine as a precautionary measure.

The coronavirus restrictions in Auckland will stay in place until 11.59pm on Wednesday, August 26.

"Our current expectation is that by this time, the perimeter of the cluster will be identified, will be isolated, and we can move to level two in Auckland with confidence," Ms Ardern said.

"Our intention is that Auckland and New Zealand will quickly move back down through alert levels if we continue on this track, but it is wise to take a bit of extra time, that bit of extra time is our best way of getting out quickly."

The New Zealand Government will review the restriction levels next Friday.

Ms Ardern put Auckland, home to about 1.7 million people, into lockdown for three days earlier this week.

She also reinstated social distancing measures across the country.

Virus had not been laying dormant in the community
Ms Ardern said the earliest sign of the re-emergence of the virus was a worker at store in Wellington who became sick about July 31, although it was not yet clear whether this case was the origin of the outbreak.

Ms Ardern said the sequence of the virus was not the same as the sequence from cases in the country's original coronavirus outbreak earlier this year.

She said this suggested the virus was not laying dormant in the community but the new batch "appears to be new to New Zealand".

"In terms of the ongoing investigation to identify where the virus originated from, there are still no clear connections at this point," Ms Ardern said.

"Contact tracing and genomic testing has not found a link to the border or managed isolation in quarantine facilities at this stage."

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters told the ABC on Thursday that he believed it came from a quarantine breach.

New Zealand recorded 13 new cases of coronavirus on Friday.

Two of the new cases are in the town of Tokoroa, in the centre of New Zealand's North Island.


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