New Zealand reports four new possible cases of coronavirus

Ashley Bloomfield
New Zealand Director-General of Health, Ashley Bloomfield

New Zealand on Wednesday reported four new possible cases of COVID-19, as the country’s largest city went into lockdown.

Auckland is in lockdown after four cases of COVID-19 were detected on Tuesday within one family in the city, with officials unable to establish where the cases had come from.

The cases came after 102 days of no community transmission were recorded in New Zealand.

Director-General of Health, Ashley Bloomfield, told media that the four probable cases had links to the family.

Officials were awaiting test results but the four people had COVID-19 symptoms, he said.

Results from genome sequencing, to help track where the virus came from, were due within 24-hours, Bloomfield said.

Earlier on Wednesday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern postponed dissolving its parliament for the upcoming election.

The dissolution of parliament was due to happen on Wednesday, but Ardern told media it would be delayed until, at least Monday.

“Our primary focus is on our health response,’’ Ardern said.

The country’s parliament must be dissolved before the Governor-General can instruct the Electoral Commission to hold the general election, which is scheduled for Sept. 19.

Auckland residents are under strict lockdown, with schools closed and non-essential businesses shut to the public and the Police, manning checkpoints to limit people’s movement.

The rest of the country has been put on alert with gatherings of more than 100 banned and physical distancing rules are in place.

Masks are not yet mandatory within the country, although Ardern urged New Zealanders to wear face coverings.

“It is a sign you care about your community and the team of five million,’’ she said.

The lockdown is expected to last until midnight Friday. (dpa/NAN)