New Zealand Extends Coronavirus Restrictions As Cases Continue To Rise
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced a 12-day extension of the country’s coronavirus restrictions.
It comes after the country reported seven new cases of the virus overnight amid fallout from the emerging cluster in Auckland, with 37 cases now connected to that outbreak.
The origin of the cluster in Auckland – New Zealand’s largest city with a population of 1.5 million – is still under investigation, although Ashley Bloomfield, the director-general of health, said six of the seven new cases were linked to it.
There are four ‘alert levels’ in New Zealand, with Auckland being on Level 3 as of Wednesday, August 12. Level 3, or ‘Restrict,’ means people are instructed to stay home in their bubble other than for essential personal movement such as going to work, seeking medical care and going shopping.
In addition, all public places – such as libraries, museums, cinemas, food courts, and playgrounds – must be closed. The rest of the country is on Level 2, or ‘Reduce,’ which means people can meet up with friends and family and socialise in groups of up to 100 if following public health guidance. Ardern said both levels would be extended.
The prime minister said the decision to extend the restrictions was ‘in keeping with our cautionary approach and New Zealand’s philosophy of going hard and going early’, as per the BBC – an approach that has proven successful in the past, with the country previously going 102 days without recording a single case of community transmission of the virus.
Ardern stressed that the situation was not serious enough to qualify for a Level 4 total shutdown, with the cabinet expected to make a further lockdown decision on August 21.
She said, as per The Guardian:
As we have said from the start, our overall COVID-19 strategy remains elimination. That means stamping out the virus whenever it comes back.
We know the incubation period for COVID-19, and our experience of the previous cluster means we can expect to see more cases as part of this cluster – it will grow before it slows. We have been world-leading in our COVID response – we can do all of that again.
Multiple clusters would have to be circulating for the country to rise to Level 4 restrictions, and so far there is no evidence of that, with all of the cases so far able to be traced back to the one cluster in Auckland.
Ardern’s handling of the pandemic has been praised around the globe, with New Zealand having recorded 1,609 cases and 22 deaths – figures that are dramatically lower than many other countries that are still grappling with tens of thousands of deaths.
It’s okay to not panic about everything going on in the world right now. LADbible and UNILAD’s aim with our campaign, Cutting Through, is to provide our community with facts and stories from the people who are either qualified to comment or have experienced first-hand the situation we’re facing. For more information from the World Health Organization, click here.