The New Zealand government on Friday extended a lockdown in its largest city as the country faces its first COVID-19 outbreak in more than three months.
The lockdown in Auckland started Wednesday and will continue for another 12 days after a cluster of 30 virus cases was discovered Tuesday, the The Associated Press reported on Friday.
New Zealand had gone 102 days without any reported coronavirus cases. Health authorities are investigating whether shipping workers are the source of the new recent outbreak.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the lockdown would give authorities time to isolate infected individuals.
“Together, we have got rid of COVID before,” Ardern said in an address. “We have kept it out for 102 days, longer than any other country. We have been world-leading in our COVID response, with the result that many lives were saved and our economy was getting going faster than almost anywhere else. We can do all of that again.”
New Zealand Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said health officials completed more than 15,000 tests Thursday, adding that the results helped pinpoint the general spread of the outbreak cluster.
“All of the cases so far, at this point, are connected. They are all part of one Auckland-based cluster,” said Health Minister Chris Hipkins. “And that is good news.”
According to Johns Hopkins University data, New Zealand has recorded a total of 1,602 coronavirus cases and 22 fatalities.