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Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Saturday ordered New Zealand’s largest city to be locked again as COVID-19 cases continued to be detected in the community.
The latest restrictions in Auckland are in place for a minimum of seven days and come less than two weeks after a three-day shutdown in the city.
Ardern said a new coronavirus case, confirmed on Saturday, could not be directly linked to other positive tests in the past two weeks, despite a school in South Auckland being a common link.
As of Sunday morning, the city’s 1.7 million residents will have to stay at home, except for essential shopping and work.
Schools and non-essential shops will be closed and access to and from the city will be restricted.
The rest of the country has level two restrictions, including limits on the size of public gatherings.
Ardern said there was “cause for concern” that the most recent case involved a person who had been contagious for a week but not been isolated.
Several people have reported symptoms since the most recent outbreak occurred in a family of three, with the South Auckland school being the connecting factor.
Ardern blamed the creeping spread of infections in the community for people who didn’t isolate when they should have been.
In the latter case, the person visited a doctor on Friday and then went to the gym.
“It’s frustrating,” said Ardern.
Authorities have the ability to take enforcement action against rule violations, but this had to be balanced with making sure people with symptoms appear, the Prime Minister added.
“We will always weigh up. Are we creating an environment in which people are open and honest?” She said.
“We are dealing with young people here and we ask them to share their whole life with us and it is very important that we have a situation where people are able and willing to do so.”
New Zealand has been widely lauded for its handling of the pandemic, with only 26 deaths out of a population of five million.
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© 2021 AFP
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