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New Zealand imposes 12-day lockdown in Auckland as it battles fresh Covid-19 outbreak

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New Zealand imposes 12-day lockdown in Auckland as it battles fresh Covid-19 outbreak
Solely 5 days in the past, New Zealand was marking an enviable milestone — 100 days with none neighborhood transmission. However this week has demonstrated how briskly that may change, even in a rustic like New Zealand which has been held up as a world leader for its dealing with of the virus.

On Friday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern introduced that Auckland — town of round 1.5 million folks on the heart of the brand new outbreak — will stay beneath a stage three lockdown for one more 12 days, whereas the remainder of the nation stays beneath stage two restrictions, that means gatherings are restricted to not more than 100 folks. The foundations lengthen restrictions that got here into impact earlier this week.

Underneath stage three restrictions, folks shall be advised to remain house apart for important private motion, colleges will function at restricted capability, and public venues such as museums, playgrounds and gymnasiums will stay shut.

The fresh outbreak is a blow for New Zealand. The nation already spent 5 weeks beneath one of many world’s strictest lockdowns, which closed most companies and colleges, and noticed folks keep at house.

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Ardern has warned she expects to see extra instances.

“Lifting restrictions now and seeing an explosion of instances is the worst factor we may do for Auckland and for the New Zealand economic system,” she mentioned. “We’ve got removed Covid earlier than … We will do all of that once more.”

Earlier Friday, New Zealand’s Director Common of Well being Dr. Ashley Bloomfield introduced one other 12 locally-transmitted coronavirus instances. There are actually 49 lively instances in New Zealand to 49, 29 of that are linked to the latest outbreak.
The instances are all in Auckland aside from two in Tokoroa, a city of 24,000 about 200km (124 miles) south of town. In keeping with the Ministry of Well being, these two examined constructive after a go to from a contact of one of many Auckland instances.

In a press convention Friday, Bloomfield mentioned that 771 shut contacts of the confirmed instances had been recognized, and greater than 15,700 checks had been processed on Thursday — the very best variety of checks processed in a single day in the nation.

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For the reason that begin of the outbreak, New Zealand has performed greater than 500,000 checks. It has reported a complete of 1,251 coronavirus instances, together with 22 deaths.

What brought about the outbreak?

There’s nonetheless a serious, unanswered query: How did this outbreak occur?

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The distant island nation imposed strict border controls again in March, that means that, for essentially the most half, solely New Zealanders are allowed into the nation — and people who do arrive from overseas must spend 14 days in state quarantine services. In keeping with the Ministry of Well being, 68% of New Zealand’s instances are imported or linked to imported instances.
One doable reason for this newest outbreak is that coronavirus by some means obtained out of New Zealand’s state quarantine services. That is what Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters told Australian nationwide broadcaster ABC, saying: “I believe there was a breach in our quarantine system.”
There have been breaches in New Zealand earlier than — in July, a person cut through a fence at a managed isolation facility to go to a liquor retailer, and one other man who later examined constructive for coronavirus broke out of a facility and visited a grocery store. Quarantine facility breaches have been linked to an outbreak in the Australian state of Victoria, which is at present beneath lockdown.

Up to now, authorities have not discovered a match between the genome concerned in this newest outbreak and any instances in managed isolation services. Bloomfield mentioned the brand new instances most intently resemble the genome patterns from the UK and Australia.

Bloomfield thinks the outbreak may have come in via the isolation services quite than being in current for months in New Zealand.

“I believe there’s excellent proof to recommend that it hasn’t been lurking in the neighborhood,” he mentioned. Ardern mentioned Friday that the pressure in the brand new outbreak shouldn’t be the identical as one which beforehand existed in New Zealand.

Authorities are additionally testing samples from surfaces at Americold, an American temperature-controlled warehouse firm the place one of many unique 4 to check constructive labored. A variety of instances have been linked to the corporate.

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However Ardern mentioned that, for now, authorities didn’t know the way the outbreak occurred.

“We don’t essentially must reply that query to cope with this cluster successfully,” she mentioned.

Director-General of Health Dr. Ashley Bloomfield speaks to media during a press conference at Parliament on August 14, 2021 in Wellington, New Zealand.

How New Zealand compares

New Zealand’s fresh outbreak has drawn parallels with Australia and Hong Kong — each locations that imposed strict border measures after they had low an infection numbers and appeared to have the virus beneath management, solely to expertise a reemergence of the virus.

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Within the Australian state of Victoria, a lockdown has been imposed and a curfew put in place in Melbourne. As of Thursday, Victoria — a state of round 6 million people — had greater than 7,800 active cases of coronavirus, and 275 deaths.
In Hong Kong — house to round 7.5 million people — there are round 1,000 active cases, together with 32 in a important situation. Sixty-six folks have died. Regardless of the present outbreak, town has not imposed a lockdown, though folks must wear masks in public or face a effective, public gatherings are restricted to 2 folks, and eating places and bars should shut at evening aside from takeaways.

On Thursday, Ardern famous that New Zealand had imposed restrictions inside 24 hours of the primary new neighborhood coronavirus instances — a response which she mentioned was sooner than in Hong Kong or Victoria.

“The tempo and velocity must also act as an additional layer of reassurance,” she mentioned Thursday, earlier than reiterating the mantra she has been saying for the reason that begin of the outbreak: “Going laborious and early remains to be the most effective plan of action.”

CNN’s Isaac Yee contributed to this story.

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