Auckland enters lockdown after new COVID cases reported

Papatoetoe High School in Auckland closes after student tested positive for COVID-19

Auckland spent more than two weeks in lockdown last August after a virus outbreak was linked to a worker at a coolstore handling imported frozen freight, but New Zealand has largely been enjoying relaxed restrictions for months.

"Three days will give us time to gather further information on the source and undertake further testing, as well as breaking any chains of transmission if the virus is present wider in the community", wrote the government of New Zealand. By closing its global borders early the island nation virtually eradicated the virus in the early stage of the pandemic.

Covid-19 minister Chris Hipkins said health officials were moving rapidly to test and isolate close contacts.

Three new cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed in Auckland, the country's largest city.

It has been announced that all flights originating in New Zealand will be classified as "red zone" flights for an initial 72 hours from 12.01am on February 15, in a statement from the office of the Chief Medical Officer.

One is that the virus came from a transit passenger, while another is that it came from worldwide aircrew, who in some cases have their uniforms cleaned at the facility where the infected woman works, she told Radio New Zealand Monday.

The rest of New Zealand will also be placed under heightened restrictions but not into a lockdown.

Reports from Auckland suggest the transition to alert level 3 has gone "reasonably well", says Ardern, with less people on public transport and out and about.

The infections were found in three members of a household - a father, mother and their daughter who goes to high school.

The school will host a testing centre and be closed on Monday and Tuesday.

Australia's Department of Health responded by asking all arrivals during the lockdown period who arrive in the country to enter 14 days of hotel quarantine.

Another family member from their household is now undergoing testing.

Yesterday's cases, which are a woman who works doing laundry for global aircrew and her family, have been confirmed with the new, more transmissible United Kingdom variant of the virus. The person has been deemed a historical case but remains in managed isolation.

But the most likely scenario is human-to-human transmission, Ardern said.

'I'm saying to people, get tested, it has to be.

The states will work to identify those who have recently arrived in Australia from New Zealand and assess their risk of transmitting coronavirus, the Department of Health said.

"New Zealand has kept COVID-19 contained better than nearly any other country", Hipkins said of the nation that closed its global borders and introduced strict social distancing early in the pandemic.

The fatality was New Zealand's 26th Covid-related death since the start of the pandemic.

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