All four of the cases were found within one household in South Auckland according to New Zealand’s Director-General of Health Dr. Ashley Bloomfield. He added that none of the new cases had recently travelled outside of New Zealand.
“We have been preparing for that time, and that time is now,” said Dr Bloomfield, adding that the “health system is well prepared” for such an outbreak.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that Auckland, the country’s most populous city, would temporarily be placed under level three pandemic restrictions for three days, beginning at midday on Wednesday.
“In line with our precautionary approach we will be asking Aucklanders to take swift actions with us. As of 12 noon tomorrow, Wednesday August 12, we will be moving Auckland to level 3 restrictions,” Ardern said Tuesday.
She added that the lockdown would allow health officials to conduct urgent contact tracing and assess the situation.
Under the new restrictions businesses including restaurants, bars and non-essential shops will close. People will only be allowed to leave their homes to conduct essential activities such as picking up supplies from grocery stores. Gatherings over 10 people will also be restricted and schools will be closed for three days.
Outside Auckland, the rest of New Zealand will go into level two restrictions.
Under these rules groups of no more than 100 people can gather in one place. Social distancing must also be practiced at hospitality businesses, while public venues such as museums, libraries and pools can open if they comply with public health measures and ensure one meter physical distancing and record keeping.
The new restrictions will last for at least three days, until midnight on Friday.