New Zealand announces three-day Covid lockdown in Auckland

14 February 2021, 08:50

Jacinda Ardern announced on Sunday a three-day lockdown for Auckland
Jacinda Ardern announced on Sunday a three-day lockdown for Auckland. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

New Zealand has announced a three-day lockdown for its largest city, Auckland, after three unexplained Covid cases emerged in the community.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed the tightening of restrictions on Sunday following an urgent meeting with other Cabinet members.

Measures will also be heightened throughout the rest of the country but will not go as far as a lockdown, the NZ leader said.

Ms Arden explained that the government chose its cautious approach so it can find out more about the outbreak, including whether the infections were of the more contagious coronavirus variants.

Auckland's lockdown is New Zealand's first in six months and represents a serious setback in the country's mostly successful efforts to control and contain the virus.

Many nations have heralded New Zealand and its leader for successfully stamping out community transmissions.

Read more: NZ reports first Covid case outside quarantine in over two months

Read more: Australian state of Victoria locks down to halt spread of Kent strain

Director of International Vaccine Institute: 2023 will end pandemic

The country had returned to a level of normality prior to February's outbreak, with Kiwis free to return to work, attend concerts and watch sporting events without the need to wear masks or take other precautions.

Ms Ardern had planned to attend the Big Gay Out on Sunday - a festival in the city that sees tens of thousands of people celebrating Pride - but she ended up cancelling and returning to Wellington, the capital, to manage the situation.

"I'm asking New Zealanders to continue to be strong and to be kind," the NZ leader said at a press conference on Sunday evening.

"I know we all feel the same way when this happens. We all get that sense of 'not again'. But remember, we have been here before and that means we know how to get out of this again, and that is together."

New Zealand has experienced issues with Covid-19 at the border, with new cases regularly detected among returning travellers, all of whom are made to quarantine for two weeks.

Read more: New Zealand rings in 2021 with Covid-free celebrations

Read more: Australian city of Perth locks down after single Covid case

James O'Brien compares leadership of Johnson and New Zealand PM

However, despite the tight measures, multiple infections have crept through before being controlled again.

Officials are trying to determine whether that has happened again for the current outbreak, which involved a mother, father and daughter in Auckland.

The mum is said to work at a catering company that does laundry for airlines, and authorities are investigating whether there is a link to infected passengers. Officials said the woman had not been going aboard the planes herself.

"We are gathering all of the facts as quickly as we can, and the system that served us so well in the past is really gearing up to do so again," said Covid-19 response minister Chris Hipkins.

He described the cases as new and active and said scientists are carrying out genome sequencing to see whether they are variants, and also to see whether they match with any infected passengers.

"New Zealand has kept Covid-19 contained better than almost any other country. But as we have kept saying, there is no such thing as no risk," Mr Hipkins said.

New Zealand, with a population of five million, has reported more than 2,300 cases and 25 deaths since the pandemic began.

Listen & subscribe: Global Player | Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Jay Slater had travelled to the Canary Islands for a music festival

Jay Slater's mum issues desperate plea after Spanish police reject help in search for missing Brit

Ukrainian President Volodmyr Zelensky has reportedly slammed Nigel Farage for his controversial comments about the West provoking the invasion of the country.

Zelensky reportedly says Farage 'infected by Putinism' as Reform leader doubles down on Ukraine comments

Another top Tory official is being investigated by the Gambling Commission for dozens of bets on the election date.

Another top Tory official investigated over 'dozens of bets placed on election' but denies wrongdoing

Thirteen people have been arrested after a forest fire near Athens which were allegedly started by fireworks coming from a mega-yacht.

13 arrested after Greek mega-yacht allegedly caused forest fires on outskirts

Four men have been arrested after Sebaastian James-Kraan was shot and killed on Templeman Road in Ealing, west London on June 9.

Four arrested in murder probe after 20-year-old shot dead in Ealing on June 9

Starmer labels Farage's comments 'disgraceful'

Farage doubles down on Ukraine comments after Sunak and Starmer condemned Reform UK leader

England manager Gareth Southgate has suggested his team are not fit enough

Gareth Southgate says England squad have 'limitations' after lacklustre start to Euro 2024

Just Stop Oil plans major disruption to summer holidays with private jet stunt just the start

Two Just Stop Oil protesters deny causing £52,000 worth of damage after private jets sprayed with orange paint

Sir Keir Starmer, (L), and Kemi Badenoch

‘We are not rejoining the EU’: Starmer shuts down Badenoch’s claim Labour want to ‘reverse Brexit’

Rowling criticises Sir Keir along with several members of his shadow cabinet

JK Rowling 'struggling to support' Labour over Sir Keir's stance on transgender rights that's 'abandoning' women

Taylor Swift poses with the Royal Family

Taylor Swift takes selfie with William, George and Charlotte - as Prince of Wales spotted dancing away to ‘Shake It Off’

Exclusive
Chris Packham has blamed the media for the radical action of Just Stop Oil

Environmental activist Chris Packham blames media for existence of Just Stop Oil

Starmer labels Farage's comments 'disgraceful'

Farage’s comments on Ukraine are ‘disgraceful’, Starmer tells LBC, as PM accuses him of ‘playing into Putin’s hands’

Timberlake was arrested after having dinner with friends on Long Island

Justin Timberlake breaks silence on drink-driving arrest at Chicago concert

Live
Nigel Farage

General Election LIVE: Tories rally against Farage after Reform leader says West provoked Russia into invading Ukraine

Dr Michael Mosley and his wife, Clare.

‘We miss him so much’: Michael Mosley’s widow says she will continue his work in emotional tribute