New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Friday extended a lockdown in Auckland, the country’s biggest city in response to the first national coronavirus outbreak in months.
Four cases were identified within one family unit – sparking fears of an outbreak.
The New Zealand leader said lockdown measures in Auckland, home to about 1.7 million people, and social distancing measures across the country that were imposed on Wednesday would remain in place for another 12 days.
The Prime Minister also said genomic testing has shown the latest outbreak is a different strain to the original outbreak in New Zealand earlier in the year, suggesting it was new to the country.
Contact tracers are working to identify the source of the virus after Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield confirmed the family had no connection to overseas travelers or the hotel quarantine program.
“Our overall Covid-19 strategy remains elimination,” Jacinda Arden said in a televised media conference.
Under the level 3 restrictions, people will be urged to stay home and consumer-facing businesses will be shuttered until Aug. 26. Across the country, level 2 restrictions that include social distancing and gathering limits, will also be extended until the same day.
The Prime Minister also said she will make a decision on whether to delay the Sept. 19 election within 48 hours.
New Zealand recorded 12 new confirmed local cases of the coronavirus on Friday including 2 in the North Island town of Tokoroa, all linked to the Auckland outbreak.