In Brief

How New Zealand is tackling fresh coronavirus outbreak

Health experts ‘baffled’ by origins of new cases as Auckland enters three-day lockdown

New Zealand has reinstated strict lockdown measures after confirming new Covid-19 infections that end a 102-day run with no local transmissions of the virus.

The Oceanic country appeared to have eliminated the coronavirus after implementing what the BBC described as “some of the toughest restrictions in the world on travel and activity early on in the pandemic, when it only had a few dozen cases”.

But a three-day lockdown has now been imposed in Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, after four new infections were confirmed. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who has been praised for her handling of the pandemic, has also reimposed social distancing measures across the entire country.

Sky News reports that all of the newly reported Covid cases are members of a single family, none of whom had travelled abroad recently. Reuters adds the source of the outbreak has “baffled health officials”.

Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said: “We are working hard to put together pieces of the puzzle on how this family got infected.”

Health officials are “now looking into whether the coronavirus may have arrived from outside the country in a different way”, with suspicions that the virus may have arrived via freight, says Sky News.

The broadcaster adds that one of the people who tested positive works at an Americold food cold-storage facility in Auckland, which was being “swabbed to check if it was a possible source of the infections”.

Referring to the possibility that this was the source of the new outbreak, Bloomfield told a news conference that “we know the virus can survive within refrigerated environments for quite some time”.

However, the World Health Organization (WHO) website states that “there is currently no evidence that people can catch COVID-19 from food or food packaging”.

The outbreak has prompted calls from National Party leader Judith Collins for the country’s upcoming election - scheduled to take place on 19 September - to be delayed until November or even next year, The New Zealand Herald reports.

Ardern said yesterday that no decision had been made on postponing the vote.

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