The New Zealand city of Auckland has entered a three-day lockdown – its first in six months – after just three new cases of Covid-19 were recorded locally.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern imposed the lockdown after an Auckland family of three tested positive for Covid-19. The mother of the family reportedly works at a company that deals with airline laundry, prompting concerns that the virus may have been transmitted by a passenger on a flight.
In a news conference on Sunday, Ardern called on New Zealanders to “continue to be strong and to be kind,” adding: “We have been here before and that means we know how to get out of this again, and that is together.”
Auckland citizens are now required to stay home except for essential activity and are not allowed to leave the city, while the rest of the country has been put on higher alert. Officials will use the three days of lockdown to investigate whether there has been any further spread of the virus.
New Zealand – one of the least coronavirus-affected countries in the world, with just 2,330 cases and 25 deaths – has not experienced any lockdown since August 2020 and has managed to maintain a relatively normal standard of living since the start of the pandemic.
Australia announced on Sunday that it would temporarily halt its quarantine exemption for New Zealanders entering the country. Under its previous policy, New Zealanders could travel to Australia without spending 14 days in mandatory hotel quarantine like other arrivals.