On Friday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that Auckland – a city with about 1.5 million inhabitants at the heart of a new outbreak – will remain locked at level three for another 12 days, while the rest The country’s remains at level two. limited, means gatherings are limited to no more than 100 people. The restriction extension rules go into effect earlier this week.
Under level three restrictions, people will be required to stay at home for essential personal activities, schools will operate with limited capacity and public venues such as museums, playgrounds. and the gym will be closed.
The new outbreak was a blow to New Zealand. The country went through five weeks under one of the world̵7;s most stringent door shutdowns, closed most businesses and schools, at the same time found people at home.
Ardern has warned that she hopes to encounter more cases.
“Lifting restrictions right now and seeing a boom in cases is the worst we can do for Auckland and for the New Zealand economy,” she said. “We removed Covid before … We can redo all of that.”
During Friday’s press conference, Bloomfield said it had identified 771 close contacts with confirmed cases and more than 15,700 tests were processed on Thursday – the highest number of tests processed. reason for a day in this country.
Since the outbreak, New Zealand has conducted more than 500,000 tests. It reported a total of 1,251 coronavirus infections, of which 22 were fatal.
What caused the outbreak?
There’s still one big unanswered question: How did this outbreak happen?
To date, the authorities have yet to find a match between the genome associated with this latest outbreak and any in the managed quarantine facilities. Bloomfield said the new cases most closely resemble genomic samples from the UK and Australia.
Bloomfield contends that the outbreak could have come through quarantine facilities rather than surviving for months in New Zealand.
“I think there is very good evidence that it doesn’t lurk in the community,” he said. Ardern said Friday that the strain in the new outbreak is not the same as the one that previously existed in New Zealand.
Authorities are also testing samples from surfaces at Americold, an American temperature-controlled warehouse company, where one in four prototypes is positive. Some cases have been linked to the company.
But Ardern says that, for now, the authorities don’t know how the disease broke out.
“We don’t have to answer that question to deal with this cluster effectively,” she said.
How does New Zealand compare
New Zealand’s new outbreak has drawn similarities with Australia and Hong Kong – both where strict border measures apply when they have low numbers of infections and appear to have virus control, only for the virus to reappear.
On Thursday, Ardern noted that New Zealand had imposed restrictions within 24 hours of the first new case of community coronavirus – a response she said was faster in Hong Kong or Victoria.
“Speed and speed should also serve as an additional layer of reassurance,” she said on Thursday, before reiterating the spell she had been saying since the beginning of the outbreak: “Go hard. and early is still the best course of action. “
CNN’s Isaac Yee contributed to this story.