Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the move Sunday evening after she held a meeting with other top politicians. Auckland will be placed in the lockdown just before midnight on Sunday after three unexplained cases of Covid in the area. The rest of the country will also be placed under stricter restrictions – but will avoid a lockdown, the Prime Minister said.
It comes after three members of the same family from South Auckland tested positive, with the source of the infection unknown.
New Zealand’s Covid-19 minister Chris Hipkins confirmed on Sunday at an emergency press conference that authorities were tracing close contacts in order to carry out tests on them.
Earlier, he also said that the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had cancelled prior engagements and was returning to Wellington for briefings.
Mr Hipkins told a press conference: “Having the prime minister in Wellington means we can make decisions quickly.
“At this stage, we don’t know whether we need to.
“There is a number of gaps in our knowledge around these cases.”
The three new cases are a mother, father and daughter, who all tested positive for the coronavirus on Sunday.
The mother is employed by LSG Sky Chefs, one of the largest airline catering firms in the world.
She last reported for work on February 5 and her last negative test was on January 18.
The authorities are now carrying out tests on the company’s employees.
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In a statement, the Ministry of Health said it was carrying out genome sequencing on blood samples from the family.
It said: “Whole-genome sequencing is being rapidly carried out so we can learn whether these infections are one of the more transmissible variants reported overseas, which we’ve also detected around other border-related cases in New Zealand recently.”