NZ announces return of coronavirus after 102 days

WELLINGTON • New Zealand announced its first locally transmitted coronavirus infections more than 100 days yesterday and issued a stay-at-home lockdown order for the country’s largest city.

After receiving global praise for its success containing the virus, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said four cases had been detected in a single-family in Auckland from an unknown source.

“After 102 days, we have our first cases of Covid-19 outside of managed isolation or quarantine facilities…we have all worked incredibly hard to prevent this scenario,” she told the country in a televised address.”

Until yesterday, the World Health Organisation had hailed the country as an example to others for having “successfully eliminated community transmission”.

New Zealand reported just 22 deaths in a population of 22 million and had not recorded community transmission since May 1.

As a result, New Zealanders had been enjoying a near-normal lifestyle with no social distancing and spectators allowed at sports and cultural events.

Auckland will be locked down for at least three days from today and some social-distancing restrictions will be reintroduced in the rest of the country. — AFP