On Friday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that Auckland – the city of about 1.5 million people at the center of the new blast – would remain under a level three blockade for another 12 days, while the rest of the country remained below the second level restrictions. namely meetings are limited to no more than 100 people. The rules extend the restrictions that took effect earlier this week.
Under third-level restrictions, people will be told to stay home away from essential personal mobility, schools will operate at limited capacity, and public places such as museums, playgrounds, and gyms will remain open. closed.
The fresh spread is a blow to New Zealand. The country has already spent five weeks under one of the toughest obstacles in the world, that closed most businesses and schools and saw people stay at home.
Ardern has warned he expects to see more cases.
“Lifting the restrictions now and seeing an explosion of cases is the worst thing we could do for Auckland and the New Zealand economy,”; she said. “We got rid of Covid before … We can do all this again.”
At a news conference Friday, Bloomfield said 771 close contacts of confirmed cases had been identified, and more than 15,700 tests were processed Thursday – the highest number of tests processed in a single day in the country.
Since the outbreak, New Zealand has conducted more than 500,000 tests. It has reported a total of 1,251 coronavirus cases, including 22 deaths.
What caused the explosion?
There is still a major, unanswered question: How did this explosion happen?
So far, authorities have not found a match between the genome involved in this latest outbreak and any cases at the isolation management facilities. Bloomfield said the new cases closely resemble genome models from the UK and Australia.
Bloomfield thinks the blast may have entered inside the isolation premises instead of being present for months in New Zealand.
“I think there is very good evidence to suggest that there has been no drowsiness in the community,” he said. Ardern said Friday that the strain on the New Zealand blast is not the same as what previously existed in New Zealand.
Authorities are also testing samples from surfaces at Americold, a U.S. temperature-controlled warehouse company, where one of the four originals to test worked positively. A number of cases have been linked to the company.
But Ardern said that, for now, authorities did not know how the blast occurred.
“We do not necessarily need to answer this question to deal with this grouping effectively,” she said.
How does New Zealand compare
New Zealand’s recent spread has drawn parallels with Australia and Hong Kong – both countries that imposed strict border measures when they had low infection numbers and appeared to have the virus under control, only to try a redistribution of the virus.
On Thursday, Ardern noted that New Zealand had imposed restrictions within 24 hours of the first cases of the new community coronavirus – a response it said was faster than in Hong Kong or Victoria.
“Rhythm and speed should also act as an extra layer of security,” she said Thursday, before repeating the mantra she said from the start of the blast: “Going too far and early is still the best way to act. “.
CNN’s Isaac Yee contributed to this story.