New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has ordered the lockdown of the country’s most populous city for three days, just days after congratulating herself that there are no more cases of COVID-19 on her territory.
Viruses have the ability to invite themselves when you least expect it, and that is the painful lesson that New Zealand authorities are learning the hard way. Jacinda Ardern, the prime minister of this South Pacific archipelago, which has set an example in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, had to announce the lockdown of Auckland, the country’s most populous city, on Tuesday, just three days after she was pleased that there had been no new cases for 100 days. The countdown has stopped at 102 days, as four cases have been reported within the same family with no international connection.
According to the New Zealand Herald, a 50-year-old man was examined twice after showing symptoms of fever and cough. The result was positive each time. Three other family members, including a child and the man’s partner, tested positive and three others tested negative. The family lives in the southern suburbs of the city. New Zealand’s Director-General of Health, Dr. Ashley Bloomfield, announced at a press conference that he expects more cases as the cause of the infection cannot be identified. He also denied any connection to the person who tested positive in South Korea after a stay in New Zealand.
New Containment in Auckland
In view of these worrying figures, Jacinda Ardern has decreed a three-day containment for the entire Auckland region starting at noon on Wednesday 12 August. Everyone is invited to stay home and telecommute unless they are “indispensable” workers. Schools will be closed, except to accommodate the children of those who have to work. Meetings are limited to 10 people. There is also a restriction for the rest of the country, but it is less strict: New Zealanders have to wear a mask when they leave home, and assemblies are limited to 100 people. “Act as if you have the COVID-19 and as if everyone around you has it,” said the Prime Minister. Please don’t rush to the supermarkets tonight. There’s no reason to rush or go back for a purchase.
Jacinda Ardern wants to confine the Auckland population as a “precautionary measure”. “We know how to do it because we’ve done it before,” she says. The country had the longest period of non-contamination in the world after a first wave. According to John Hopkins University, New Zealand has 1,570 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 22 deaths. These figures are expected to change in the coming days.