New Zealand city locked down after identifying first Covid-19 cases in 102 days

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Auckland will be moved to Alert Level 3 until midnight on Friday, meaning that people will be asked to stay at home, while bars and many other businesses will be closed.
New Zealand city locked down after identifying first Covid-19 cases in 102 days
Ardern said Tuesday that authorities have found four cases of the coronavirus in one Auckland household from an unknown source File picture: TVNZ

New Zealand has locked down the city of Auckland after it identified the country's first coronavirus cases in 102 days.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the four coronavirus cases have been found in one Auckland household from an unknown source.

Ms Ardern said Auckland, the nation's largest city, will be moved to Alert Level 3 until midnight on Friday, meaning that people will be asked to stay at home, while bars and many other businesses will be closed.

"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," Ms Ardern said.

She said travelling to Auckland will be banned unless people live there and are travelling home.

The rest of the country will be raised to Level 2 until Friday, meaning that mass gatherings will be limited to 100 attendees and people would need to socially distance themselves from each other.

Director-general of health Ashley Bloomfield said the cases were confirmed after a person in their 50s went to their doctor with symptoms and was swabbed twice, testing positive both times. Six other people in the person's household were then tested, with three more positive results.

"Importantly, the person has no history of overseas travel," Mr Bloomfield said, saying that the source of the infections remains unknown.

The news comes as the global number of Covid-19 cases has reached 20m, according to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Centre.

The total number of global coronavirus deaths stands at 734,664, according to experts at Johns Hopkins, the American university whose aggregated tally has become the main reference for monitoring the disease.

Health officials believe the real figure of cases worldwide is in fact far higher than the Johns Hopkins tally, due to testing limitations and the fact as many as 40% of people infected have no symptoms.

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