Wellington – New Zealand’s dream run of 102 days without locally transmitted coronavirus ended Tuesday.prompting a stay-at-home lockdown order for the country’s largest city.
After receiving praise all over the world for successfully containing the virus, Prime Minister Jacinda Arden said four cases had been detected in a single family in Auckland from an unknown source.
“After 102 days, we have our first cases of COVID-19 outside of managed isolation or quarantine facilities… we have also planned and prepared for it,” said Arden.
As a result of the infection, mobile phones nationwide received an emergency text that set off blaring alerts and said “if you are in Auckland STAY HOME… and SAVE LIVES”.
Until Tuesday, the World Health Organisation has hailed New Zealand as an example to others for having “successfully eliminated community transmission”.
Health authorities have reportedly warned people not to be complacent and said a second wave of infections was “inevitable”.
Arden said she understood the disappointment of New Zealanders who believed the virus had been squashed after a strict seven-week lockdown earlier this year.
“It was perhaps easy to feel New Zealand was out of the woods, my request is not to feel dispirited or disheartened,” she said.
“Of all the countries in the world, New Zealand has gone the longest without a resurgence – but because of that we always knew we had to plan, and we’ve done that.”
Auckland will be locked down for at least three days from Wednesday and some social distancing restrictions will be reintroduced in the rest of the country.