New Zealand Extends Auckland Lockdown After Months Without New Cases

New Zealand was praised for its success in suppressing the virus, but now it's dealing with a new batch of local cases.
Posted at 12:05 PM, Aug 14, 2020

New Zealand's Prime Minister says Auckland will stay under a level 3 lockdown, shutting down public venues and requiring residents to stay home if they're not performing essential tasks.

New Zealand went more than 100 days without any new local cases of COVID-19. But four members in one family tested positive Wednesday and within a few days, New Zealand counted 29 new cases. All of them can be traced back to Auckland.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern shut down much of the city on Wednesday. Then on Friday, she extended the restrictions for another 12 days as more coronavirus cases popped up. The rest of the country is under a level 2 restriction, which bars gatherings of over 100 people.

The country's director-general of health said the health system is well-prepared.

"We have been saying for some weeks it was inevitable that New Zealand would get another case of community transmission. This is a tricky virus. We have been working on the basis that it could be at any time and been preparing for that time. That time is now."

New Zealand has received praise for suppressing the coronavirus. Johns Hopkins University reports it's had a little more than 1,600 cases and 22 deaths.

So how did New Zealand — Auckland in particular — go so quickly from a coronavirus-less utopia to a city under lockdown? New Zealand is only allowing residents to travel in, and those who do, spend two weeks in state-run quarantine facilities. The country's deputy prime minister told news outlets he thinks there's been a "breach" in the system for quarantining New Zealanders traveling into the country.