Auckland’s lockdown has been extended yet again, with the city now due to have its regulations eased at midnight this coming Sunday. Provided, of course, the infection situation improves sufficiently by then.
Making the announcement on Monday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern also advised the country’s residents that masks are now mandatory on all public transport across the nation. The only exceptions are those with certain medical conditions.
Four days added to existing lockdown
In Auckland, the extension means an extra four days are added to the existing level three regulations.
Currently just over 100 people have been confirmed as infected by the latest outbreak in the south of the city. This means it is the biggest cluster in New Zealand as the country battles its renewed surge after achieving more than 100 days without a community transmitted infection.
“If it weren’t for level three, this [Auckland] cluster would be exponential, of that I have no doubt,” the PM said during her address on Monday.
2020 has, frankly, been terrible, says PM
“This is a contained cluster. But it is our biggest one. And that means the tail will be long and the cases will keep coming for a while to come.”
Ardern acknowledged to New Zealanders that the renewed outbreak had been demoralising for many people, who had believed the battle against COVID-19 was won in the country.
“If it feels hard – that’s because it has been,” she said. “But let’s also remember [that], in a world where 2020 has frankly been terrible, we are strong, we have been kind and we are doing really well.”
Source of new outbreak still unknown
The source of the outbreak is still not known and there is a growing feeling among the health authorities say it may never be established.
“This is a pragmatic decision to ensure the current cluster is fully contained,” said Associate Prof Siouxsie Wiles, a University of Auckland microbiologist and nominee for the 2020 New Zealander of the Year Awards.
“The last thing we want is to miss some cases that then turn into further community transmission.”