After new cases of COVID-19 were reported, breaking their 102-day COVID-free run, New Zealanders are scrambling to stock up on supplies as they prepare for their biggest city to once again go into lockdown, Wednesday.
New Zealand has been hailed globally after its success in battling COVID-19 and being able to go for more than 3 months without reporting new infections. The island nation that lies in the Pacific with a population of 5 million has also been dubbed as one of the safest places in the world as the coronavirus became a pandemic.
According to Ashley Bloomfield, New Zealand's Director General of Health stated that the four cases were reported from one family who are located in South Auckland.
She also added that one of the positive individuals is already in their 50s. The family has no reported history of traveling internationally. She also noted that contact tracing is already being performed and family members have already been tested.
Meanwhile, as news of the cases went out, people across the country began to panic. With businesses preparing to close down, people rushed to supermarkets to stock up on essential needs.
According to Inquirer.net, on Wednesday, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Adern stated that as a precautionary measure, Auckland would be placed under level 3 restriction. Level three means that large gatherings with more than 10 participants would be prohibited and people are also advised to stay away from work and school.
Moreover, she added that the restriction would go on for three days since it would be enough time to gather information, perform widespread contact tracing, and make an assessment in order to build a new strategy to mitigate the spread.
Adern also ensured the citizens that her government has prepared for the situation. However, she told people to be careful because as of the moment the source of the infections is still unknown.
"Do not panic"
Meanwhile, Auckland's Mayor Phil Goff has advised his constituents to remain calm and not to panic while contact tracing is still being performed. He also urged them to come together just like what they have done before when they were able to stamp out community transmission of the virus, Reuters reported.
In addition, Adern has advised that travel to Auckland is restricted except for those who live there.
Moreover, she added that the entire New Zealand would be placed on an alert level two for three days. This means that social gatherings with more than 100 people would be prohibited and social distancing would again be imposed.
New Zealand last saw community transmission of the virus on May 1, after their first case was reported at the end of February.
Last Sunday, the country marked 100 days without any local cases, however, they were warned not to be complacent as other countries such as Australia and Vietnam had already seen a resurgence of the outbreak.
On top of this, Bloomfield stated that it is likely that more cases will be reported in the following days since the nature of the new cases remains unknown.