‘Gutted’: World reacts to NZ lockdown
The world has reacted with shock after New Zealand announced a new lockdown following four new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Auckland.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that Auckland would go into level 3 restrictions from midday on Wednesday, with the rest of the country going into level 2 restrictions, for three days until midnight on Friday.
It came after four new cases were confirmed from one family in Auckland, breaking a 102-day virus-free record.
TVNZ reporter Andrew McFarlane said "the clock is ticking" for New Zealand, adding that locals are "gutted" by the new cases.
"Businesses are shutting up shop. Schools, universities, everything will go into closure, I suppose, for three full days at this stage," he told Today this morning. "New Zealanders are taking it seriously. We've seen face masks being used quite widely here in Auckland which is a real first for us. We haven't had to use them yet.
"It's the news Kiwis didn't want to hear, obviously. I spoke to some last night minutes after the Prime Minister's announcements. The feeling is they're pretty gutted, and it's pretty heartbreaking, but it has to be done. A lot to learn with face masks and social distancing once more."
The New Daily noted the world had been "looking to New Zealand for hope", given how effectively it appeared to have eliminated the virus.
"Many Australians had been looking to our neighbour as a gold standard in coronavirus responses, after it was thought NZ had stamped-out the illness with a tougher lockdown response and strict travel bans earlier in the pandemic," the article said.
It also noted that health experts had urged Victoria to implement a similar "elimination-style" plan in order to combat the state's second wave.
"Victoria's Premier Daniel Andrews (and indeed all State and Territory Premiers) should explicitly declare 'elimination' as the goal," they wrote in The Medical Journal of Australia in July.
The Washington Post noted New Zealand had "won wide recognition for its response to the pandemic".
"The country has recorded 22 deaths, even as case and death figures soar around the world," it said.
Elsewhere on social media, people noted Ms Ardern was "not messing around" with the country's swift response to the resurgence.
The restrictions are in effect from midday on Wednesday local time. Those in Auckland will have to work from home unless they are an essential service worker.
Schools will only open for students who have parents who are essential workers. Public facilities, bars, restaurants and businesses must close by midday Wednesday.
People can only leave the house for essential services and gatherings of more than 10 people are restricted. For the rest of the country, mass gatherings will be limited to 100 people.
The positive cases had no connection to overseas travel. The first case confirmed was a person in their 50s who presented to their GP with symptoms yesterday.
The man had strong symptoms including a fever and a cough, and the man's partner also had strong symptoms, Dr Bloomfield said.
There were five days from symptom onset until they were tested, he said, which was why close contacts were being followed up.
TVNZ reported the man works the night shift at a business and three of his colleagues are waiting for their test results.
His wife works in a central Auckland suburb and was tested at a West Auckland GP which is now closed.
New Zealand Health Minister Chris Hipkins noted work colleagues of one of the family members were also showing symptoms, with reports at least two colleagues are affected so far.
One of the children attends Mt Albert Primary School, which has been closed for 72 hours. Officials are awaiting the child's test results.
Ms Ardern said more information would be shared, but privacy issues needed to be considered.
Dr Bloomfield said authorities sprung into action and tested the rest of the family.
Of the six other family members tested, three were positive and the others returned negative results.
They remain in their home for now but Ms Ardern said moving them to a quarantine facility was being considered.
He said close contacts were being tested and had gone into self-isolation. Casual contacts have also gone into self-isolation.
Dr Bloomfield said it was inevitable the virus was going to return to the country.
"This is a tricky virus," he said.
"The cases are a wake up call for any complacency that may have set in. The important thing now is that we stop the spread of the virus in the community. We need to stamp it out."
Originally published as 'Gutted': World reacts to NZ lockdown
Jacinda Arden does not mess around - four new cases in one family and Auckland is put into partial lockdown. https://t.co/lgMMyF4uTd— Philip Ryan (@Philip_Ryan) August 11, 2020