The Prime Minister of New Zealand confirmed that the coronavirus infection, which triggered the country’s first blockade in months, was a British variant, raising fears of frustration with a previously successful fight against the disease.
Jacinda Ardern said on Monday that after the emergency three-day shutdown of New Zealand’s largest city on Sunday night, no new community cases have been found, raising hope that the closure will be shortened.
We confirmed that it was a British variant, so it was right to take a prudent approach and focus on safety.
“This is a highly contagious and fast-moving variant and requires extra care to get rid of it. This is exactly what our approach entails,” she added.
This is the first time a more contagious British strain has been discovered in New Zealand, which has achieved one of the lowest infection rates in the world thanks to tight border controls.
Three mothers, fathers, and daughters from the same Auckland family tested positive for coronavirus over the weekend.
My mother works for a company that does laundry for the international flight attendants at Auckland International Airport.
While early speculation focused on strains escaping from quarantine hotels, Mrs. Ardern said the genome sequencing of the latest cases failed to link cases that came through our quarantine facility. The airline moved to managed quarantine.
She said the source-tracking investigations focused on three scenarios, including whether they arrived with transit passengers who stayed at the airport or in uniforms cleaned by a laundry company and accompanied by an international flight attendant.
She said the third scenario, in which the infection occurred from non-consecutive patients in an quarantined hotel, was less likely because the sequencing difficulties were usually associated with older cases of infection.
In Auckland, 1.6 million people have been told to stay home for three days starting from midnight on Sunday. According to the three-tier country’s four-level locking system, people must stay home from home, and public places must be closed. Schools are closed except for children of key workers.
Essential stores, such as pharmacies and grocery stores, can remain open for face-to-face contact, but must follow social distancing. Meetings of up to 10 people are allowed for events such as funerals.
The rest of the country has been grouped into two phases where public transport requires wearing a mask and observing social distance.
New Zealand is one of the only countries that has driven most of Covid-19 out of the community thanks to its combination of strict domestic containment and tight border controls.
Non-citizen entry has been closed from March. Citizens returning from abroad must spend two weeks in an isolated hotel.
At the end of January, the country identified the first case of a South African variant in the community, a 56-year-old woman who recently returned from Europe.
Health Minister Chris Hipkins said the case may have been contracted during the women’s hotel quarantine. She tested positive 10 days after she was released.
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