A retirement village in New Zealand has been put into lockdown over fears of an outbreak of coronavirus, just days after the nation celebrated 100 days without any cases.
The Village Palms Retirement Community in Christchurch said eight residents were displaying flu-like symptoms and had prompted the sudden lockdown.
A letter was sent out out to family members on Tuesday saying swabs had been sent off for COVID-19 testing, NZ Herald reported.
‘We currently have several residents on our first-floor care unit who are displaying symptoms of a respiratory illness,’ the letter says.
Regional manager John Amesbury said it was a normal precaution to alert public health if more than three residents showed signs of respiratory illness.
The Village Palms Retirement Community (pictured) in Christchurch said eight residents displaying flu-like symptoms had prompted the sudden lockdown
New Zealand has gone 100 days without community transmission of coronavirus. Pictured: The nation’s infections since between March and August
‘There’s nothing to suggest it’s anything other than the normal flu,’ he said.
A spokesperson from the Canterbury District Health Board said the sick residents were being tested as a precaution.
‘The facility also contacted a local GP who has arranged for a number of people to be tested, as is the usual process during winter when a number of respiratory illness routinely circulate,’ he said in a statement.
The spokesperson said they were also testing for other respiratory viruses.
The news comes just days after New Zealand recorded 100 days without a single case of community transmission of the virus.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern plunged her nation into one of the harshest lockdowns in the world in March and has reaped the rewards since, with the last case of community transmission on May 1.
That was just 63 days after the island nation of five million reported its first infection on February 28.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (pictured) has been praised for her handling of the global pandemic by swiftly introducing strict measures to eliminate the deadly virus
Residents in Wellington wear face masks on March 24 as they leave a supermarket after buying supplies one day before the country goes into lockdown
New Zealand has recorded 1,219 infections and 22 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. The numbers are a drop in the ocean when compared to other countries still battling thousands of cases and deaths.
There are more than 19.2 million coronavirus cases across the world and at least 719,800 people have died.
Ms Ardern has been praised for her handling of the global pandemic by swiftly introducing strict measures to eliminate the deadly virus.
THREE MEASURES FOR NEW ZEALAND’S SUCCESS
- Shutting the border to everyone except to citizens, permanent residents and their families to stop coronavirus from entering
- Strict lockdown to stop COVID-19 from spreading within the community
- Ongoing control: Testing, contact tracing and quarantine
Three measures have been hailed as the drivers behind New Zealand’s success, including: border controls, lockdown and case-based controls.
Australia adopted a similar method of suppression but has since seen a second deadly wave of infections ravage Victoria – with cases creeping into New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia.
Ms Ardern announced the ‘toughest border restrictions of any country in the world’ in mid-March when she enforced mandatory self-isolation for all international arrivals. The country had just six coronavirus cases at the time of the announcement.
Less than a week later on March 20, Ms Ardern closed the country’s borders for the first time in New Zealand’s history. The number of COVID-19 infections had scaled past 20.
New Zealand’s borders remain shut to this day and only Kiwi citizens, permanent residents and their family members can enter the country.
Ms Ardern continued to move quickly, declaring a State of National Emergency to fight COVID-19 and putting all residents into Alert Level 4 – ‘eliminate’ – from 11.59pm on March 25.
All non-essential businesses and educational facilities were forced to close and Kiwis were required to stay home for four weeks.
Speaking halfway through the strict lockdown, Ms Ardern said lives had been saved by following the ‘huge’ changes.
Modelling provided to my office by economist Rodney Jones on the eve of the lockdown suggested New Zealand was on a similar trajectory to potentially Italy and Spain and that our 205 cases on the 25th of March could have grown to over 10,000 by now without the actions we have taken together,’ she said on April 9.
Pictured: Passengers wear protective masks and gloves at Auckland International Airport in April
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks during a Mihi Whakatau, formal speech of welcome, during a visit to Cardrona Alpine Resort on June 26 as Queenstown’s ski season opens
‘And new modelling due to be released later today by Te Punaha Matatini suggests that the current controls at Alert Level 4 have already had a significant impact on new case numbers and we are on track to meet their most optimistic scenario.
‘We are turning a corner, and your commitment means our plan is working.’
At the end of April, New Zealand moved to Alert Level 3 and then to Alert Level 2 on in May as coronavirus infections continued to decline.
Mr Ardern said elimination doesn’t mean zero cases.
‘It means zero tolerance for cases. It means when a case emerges, and it will, we test, we contact trace, we isolate, and we do that every single time with the ambition that when we see COVID-19, we eliminate it,’ she said.
‘That is how we will keep our transmission rate under 1, and it is how we will keep succeeding.’
The continuous tracking of cases allowed New Zealand to stop coronavirus from spreading through the community.
New Zealand entered strict lockdown at the end of March to stop the spread of coronavirus. Pictured: A view of empty Lambton Quay in Wellington during lockdown in April
New Zealand entered Alert Level 1 at 11.59pm on Monday June 8. There were no active coronavirus cases in the country and it had been 40 days since community transmission.
Last month, Ms Ardern said the second outbreak in Victoria is a ‘cautionary tale’ to learn from.
‘It appears their current outbreak is linked to a managed isolation facility similar to the ones we run here,’ she said.
‘That goes to show how quickly the virus can spread and it can move from being under control to out of control, and that even the best plans still carry risk in a pandemic.’
New Zealand has continued to report COVID-19 cases in returned travellers but the infections have not travelled into the community.
There were 22 active cases as of August 11.
CORONAVIRUS IN NEW ZEALAND: A TIMELINE
FEBRUARY 3: New Zealand bans travellers from China amid coronavirus outbreak.
FEBRUARY 28: New Zealand records its first COVID-19 infection after a person in their 60s returned from Iran.
MARCH 16: All return travellers must self-isolate for 14 days.
MARCH 20: Borders close to everyone except citizens, permanent residents and their families.
MARCH 26: Alert Level 4 ‘Eliminate’ begins. Residents are required to stay at home.
APRIL 28: New Zealand drops to Alert Level 3.
MAY 14: Alert Level 2 begins.
JUNE 9: New Zealand drops down to Alert Level 1. Residents encouraged to take precautions.
AUGUST 9: 100 days without community transmission of coronavirus.