New Zealand authorities have extended Auckland’s Level 3 lockdown by another 12 days as the country continues to see the re-emergence of new coronavirus cases.
From four confirmed community transmission cases earlier in the week – which ended New Zealand’s run of 102 days without a transmission – there are now 29 known infections. All of these are linked to a single cluster in Auckland.
Current lockdown extends to 26 August
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Friday night that the measures imposed on Wednesday would be extended to 26 August.
The PM said that, at this stage, she saw no reason to raise the lockdown level to Level 4, as there were signs that the latest outbreak had been caught relatively early in its life.
“Our current expectation is that by this time (August 26), the perimeter of the cluster will be identified, will be isolated, and we can move to Level 2 in Auckland with confidence,” Ardern stated.
“Our intention is that Auckland and New Zealand will quickly move back down through alert levels if we continue on this track, but it is wise to take a bit of extra time, that bit of extra time is our best way of getting out quickly.”
More than 30 000 tests done in two days
According to Ardern, in excess of 30 000 tests had been done around New Zealand over the past 48 hours. A total of 38 people linked to the Auckland cluster are now in government-managed quarantine as a precautionary measure.
The PM added that sequence of the virus was not the same as the sequence from cases in the country’s original coronavirus outbreak earlier this year.
The implication is that the virus has not been lying dormant in the country, but is instead a new batch that has arrived from elsewhere.
No indication as to origin of latest virus
“In terms of the ongoing investigation to identify where the virus originated from, there are still no clear connections at this point,” Ardern said.
“Contact tracing and genomic testing has not found a link to the border or managed isolation in quarantine facilities at this stage.”
One of the early victims of the extended lockdown period is Sunday’s scheduled Super Rugby game between the Auckland Blues and Canterbury Crusaders. This will now not go ahead.