New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has extended the country’s lockdown by an additional 12 days after an explosion of coronavirus cases.
Ms Ardern announced Auckland would stay in level 3 restrictions and the rest of he nation would remain on level 2 after 13 new coronavirus cases were recorded on Friday.
New Zealand was the envy of the world after going 102 days without recording a locally transmitted case of coronavirus.
But on Tuesday the detection of four new infected family members shocked the country.
The island nation has now recorded 30 cases of community transmission, 28 in Auckland and two in Tokoroa.
On Friday Ms Ardern announced that the lockdowns would be extended but said a move to level 4 was unnecessary.
‘What is important is making sure we establish the perimeter of the cluster and to stop it from growing,’ the Prime Minister warned on Friday.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (pictured) announced on Friday that New Zealand’s lockdown would be extended for 12 days after 13 new coronavirus cases were recorded
Two of New Zealand’s new cases are linked to the Americold frozen storage facility (pictured), where a worker tested coronavirus positive after falling ill on July 31
The earliest known coronavirus case in the Auckland cluster was detected in a worker at the Americold Coolstore in Mt Wellington who became sick on July 31.
However this person maybe not be the earliest case as the chain of transmission has not been discovered.
‘It will grow before it slows. And it may continue to be linked to schools, churches and social gatherings, as it has done to date,’ Ms Ardern said.
‘In keeping with our cautionary approach and New Zealand’s philosophy of going hard and going early, today, cabinet has agreed to maintain our current settings for an additional 12 days, bringing us to a full two weeks in total.’
The unexpected outbreak plunged New Zealand back into lockdown after 102 days without recording a locally transmitted case of the virus.
All of the new cases on Friday are connected to the existing cluster except for one, who is in hospital, which is still under investigation.
At least 29 coronavirus cases have been linked to the cluster in Auckland.
Two of the new cases are linked to the Americold frozen storage facility, bringing the total number to 13.
Five direct cases are workers, while seven others are family of infected staff. The refrigerated warehousing company is awaiting the results for 14 other workers.
Ms Ardern said Auckland would remain under stage 3 restrictions while the rest of New Zealand would be at level 2 restrictions (high school students in Wellington pictured on Friday)
Level 3 restrictions mean residents must only leave their homes for essential reasons like exercise, food shopping and providing care (a couple wearing masks pictured in Wellington)
It has prompted health authorities to probe whether the virus was spread on frozen food shipments.
The virus has also spread 200km away from Auckland after two of the new cases were confirmed further south in Tokoroa.
New Zealand is believed to have at least 49 active cases of coronavirus.
Anyone who has tested positive to the virus is required to quarantine in a managed facility.
‘There is nothing to suggest we need to move to a level four lockdown.
‘Our intention is that Auckland and New Zealand will quickly move back down through alert levels if we continue on this track,’ Ms Ardern explained.
Residents may only leave their homes for essential exercise, shopping and to provide care under the level 3 restrictions.
At least 30 coronavirus cases have been contracted in the community, with 29 linked to Auckland and one case under investigation (shoppers pictured in Wellington on Friday)
People should stay in their immediate household bubble and school and work should be conducted from home where possible.
Businesses are only open for takeaway and public venues like libraries and gyms are closed.
Level 2 restrictions allow New Zealanders to gather up to a limit of 100 people and they are encouraged to socially distance at all times.
While in level 3 mass gathering are cancelled, public spaces, including gyms, food courts and cinemas are closed, the closure of non-essential business and affected schools closed.
Businesses may be open to the public provided they keep a record of customer details and maintain physical distancing.
New Zealanders are encouraged to wear a face mask as a precaution.
The lockdown measures are set to remain until 11.59pm on August 26.
‘We will review these settings on August 21, we want to give about a week’s time to see how we are travelling before we review again,’ Ms Ardern said.
More than 30,000 coronavirus tests have taken place and at least 38 people are in precautionary quarantine.
New Zealand was unexpectedly back into lockdown after 102 days without recording a locally transmitted case of the virus (A child receiving coronavirus testing pictured above)