New Zealand mulls lockdown extension as virus spreads
New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks to media regarding the latest case of COVID-19 coronavirus infections, breaking a 102-day run of no local transmissions, at the parliament in Auckland on August 12, 2020. New Zealand's dream run of 102 days without locally transmitted coronavirus ended on August 11, prompting a stay-at-home lockdown order for the country's largest city.
AFP/Marty Melville
New Zealand mulls lockdown extension as virus spreads
(Agence France-Presse) - August 13, 2020 - 8:03am

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand health officials said Wednesday a COVID-19 cluster in Auckland had grown, raising the prospect a lockdown imposed on the country's biggest city after the virus returned will be extended.

National health director-general Ashley Bloomfield said a high school student in Auckland had tested positive, taking the number of confirmed infections to five, with another four probable cases.

"This is someone who was a close contact with one of our existing confirmed cases," Bloomfield told TVNZ.

Health authorities rushed to implement a lockdown in the country's largest city after testing revealed four family members had contracted the virus from an unknown source.

It ended New Zealand's much envied run of 102 days without community transmission, and resulted in a three-day stay-at-home order in Auckland which ends at midnight Friday.

Bloomfield said it was "almost certain" more cases would emerge, and teams of health workers were racing to find the cluster's origin.

"We want to find out how large it is as soon as possible, so we've been testing all close contacts, casual contacts, workplace, family related," he said. 

"This is what we want to do as quickly as possible to find out how extensive the outbreak is and who the first case might have been."

He said any decision on extending the lockdown depended on what the investigations uncovered over the next 24 hours.

"It's too early to say... we'll have a lot more information tomorrow," he said.

He played down one line of inquiry investigating whether the virus was imported via freight, then picked up by a male member of the family, who worked in a cool room for imported goods.

"It's a possibility -- it's unlikely but it's something we need to rule out," Bloomfield said, adding that another focus was whether the infection came from managed isolation facilities.

Despite New Zealand's previous success in containing the virus -- with just 22 deaths in a population of five million -- Bloomfield said health authorities had always anticipated the return of COVID-19, even it had taken some Kiwis by surprise.

"Yes we were becoming complacent and that's why our message over the last few weeks has been around avoiding that," he said.

"As you'll recall, last week I was talking about when -- not if."

NEW ZEALAND NOVEL CORONAVIRUS
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: September 26, 2020 - 4:13pm

Follow this page for updates on a mysterious pneumonia outbreak that has struck dozens of people in China.

September 26, 2020 - 4:13pm

 

The Philippines surpasses the 300,000-mark, with 2,747 new COVID-19 infections registered on Saturday.

88 individuals died and 787 recovered from the deadly virus.

September 25, 2020 - 4:10pm

The Department of Health reports 2,630 new cases of the coronavirus disease, bringing the national tally to 299.361.

69 have succumbed to the deadly virus while 494 have recovered. 

September 25, 2020 - 7:14am

The novel coronavirus has killed at least 978,448 people since the outbreak emerged in China last December, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP at 1100 GMT on Thursday.

At least 31,975,020 cases of coronavirus have been registered. Of these, at least 21,891,500 are now considered recovered.

The tallies, using data collected by AFP from national authorities and information from the World Health Organization (WHO), probably reflect only a fraction of the actual number of infections. — AFP

September 24, 2020 - 5:47pm

Israel toughens its coronavirus measures as a second nationwide lockdown now nearing its second week failed to bring down the world's highest infection rate.

The new rules will close the vast majority of workplaces, shutter markets and further limit prayers and demonstrations. 

"Over the past two days, we've heard from experts that if we don't take immediate and harsh measures, we'll reach an abyss," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says. — AFP 

September 24, 2020 - 4:13pm

The Department of Health on Thursday reports 2,180 additional COVID-19 cases in the Philippines, raising the national caseload to 296,755.

The DOH also confirms 580 new recoveries, pushing the total reported recoveries to 231,928. The country's death toll now stands at 5,127 with 36 newly-reported deaths.

Total active case (net of COVID-19 deaths and recoveries) in the country is now at 59,700.

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