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Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsLinks℠: New Zealand orders lockdown after four new COVID-19 cases emerge

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August 11, 2020 | 9:37am | Updated August 11, 2020 | 10:41am

Four new cases of COVID-19 have been detected in New Zealand — the first reported cases the country has seen in 102 days, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Tuesday as she ordered another lockdown.

The positive coronavirus cases are from a single household in Auckland, the nation’s largest city.

Ardern ordered a lockdown for the city beginning midday Wednesday through midnight Friday — shuttering bars and businesses and prohibiting people from leaving their homes except to conduct essential activities. Schools will also be closed.

“These three days will give us time to assess the situation, gather information, make sure we have widespread contact tracing so we can find out more about how this case arose and make decisions about how to respond to it once we have further information,” Ardern said at a hastily called news conference late Tuesday.

A person in their 50s went to the doctor Monday with symptoms and was swabbed twice — testing positive both times, Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said. Six other people were tested, with three more positive results. The source of the fresh infections is unknown.

“Importantly, the person has no history of overseas travel,” Bloomfield noted.

The confirmed cases come after Ardern announced the country had effectively eradicated coronavirus in early June. The country, which has largely returned to normal, has been praised globally for its response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Ardern said news of the new cases “will be very difficult to receive.”

“We had all hoped not to find ourselves in this position again,” she said Tuesday. “But we had also prepared for it. And as a team, we have also been here before.”

Mass gatherings across the rest of the country will be limited to 100 people, with social distancing requirements in place.

With Post wires

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