New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Tuesday that four new cases of the coronavirus with no known source have been found in a household in Auckland, AP reported. This are the first reported cases of local transmission of the virus in New Zealand after 102 days.
Ashley Bloomfield, the director general of health, said a 50-year-old man showing symptoms of Covid-19 had visited a doctor on Monday. He was tested twice and was found positive both times. Three out of six other people in his household were also found positive.
Bloomfield said the source of the virus remains unknown. The infected person has no recent history of overseas travel.
At a news conference, Ardern said Auckland will be put on a level three alert from midday Wednesday local time (5.30 am Indian Standard Time) through midnight Friday (5.30 pm IST). People have been directed to stay at home and bars and many other businesses will remain closed for the period.
The entire country has been put on a level two alert, which means mass gatherings of over 100 people will be prohibited and physical distancing norms are to be enforced.
“These three days will give us time to assess the situation, gather information, make sure we have widespread contact tracing so we can find out more about how this case arose and make decisions about how to respond to it once we have further information,” the prime minister said during the press conference.
People who are not residents of Auckland have been prohibited from travelling to the city.
Until Tuesday, the only known cases of the virus in New Zealand were 22 travellers who had returned from foreign shores and were kept in quarantine at the border. On July 7, New Zealand had imposed a limit on foreign air travel, asking its airlines not to take any further bookings. The country, which had declared itself Covid-19 free in early June, wants to limit the number of citizens returning home, to reduce the burden on quarantine facilities.
Since the pandemic began in January, New Zealand has reported just 1,570 cases of the coronavirus and 22 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University.