After completing 102 days, without any case of local transmission of COVID-19, New Zealand thought that the coronavirus was under control. But the country is again under lockdown after four new cases came out.
The four new cases have been found in Auckland, the largest city in New Zealand and all the four new cases are members of the same family.
The first case of COVID-19, in the country, was detected on 26 February and by mid-March, the community transmission of the coronavirus was known. The Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern imposed four levels of restrictions, starting with a strict lockdown thus making her country a model for quick action to fight against the pandemic.
NEW CASES OF COVID-19
The country had stopped the domestic flights after 1600 cases of COVID-19 were confirmed and 22 deaths by it. The last case of community transmission was declared on 1 May and on June 8, the country had declared itself virus-free, thereby lifting all the local lockdown restrictions, allowing people to meet and mingle at ease, though international traveling is not allowed and incoming travelers have to stay in quarantine for 14 days.
The four new cases have come as a surprise to everybody. The members had no history of overseas travel. The close contacts of the cases have been asked to isolate themselves for 14 days. Members of the infected family had gone to a local tourist site and one of them had gone to work, where now other staff members are also showing symptoms.
Auckland has been put under level 3 lockdown, according to which people are required to stay at home except for essential trips until the officials trace the virus. The rest of the country is under the looser lockdown protocol of level 2, which suggests social distancing but allows domestic travel and gatherings of up to 100 people.
SOLVING THE PUZZLE
As there were no local cases and less chance of an infected person coming to New Zealand, the government is trying to find out how the family in Auckland got infected. The investigators are trying to find out the various possibilities, but according to the experts, the virus was either circulating undetected for the past 3 months or entered the country on the refrigerated supply lines.
The public health scientist at the University of Otago, Nick Wilson said that there is a possibility of some failure at the border but doubts that there could be silent transmission for so long.
The Ministry of Health seems to have found out four new probable cases, whose test results are awaited, linked to the previous cases. Wilson said that it seems there had been transmission within the workplace.
There is a possibility that the virus entered the country riding on the imported chilled or frozen food, as one of the members of the infected family handles such exports at work. According to Wilson, its possibility is remote as it is more transmitted from person-to-person, but still Environmental samples from that workplace have been collected to investigate.
STAY SAFE! STAY HEALTHY! STAY TUNED!