New Zealand Prime Minister Jacindra Ardern has extended the lockdown in response to the recent coronavirus outbreak after months of no community transmission. She prefers to stick to the “go early, go hard” approach because she considers this to be an effective approach.
Ardern said that the genome testing of the latest outbreak has shown a new strain completely different from the original outbreak earlier this year. The test results suggest that this coronavirus is new to the country.
The New Zealand Prime Minister said that the lockdown regulation in Auckland, which has almost 1.7 million residents, and the social distancing measures across the country would remain active for at least 12 more days.
Ardern took action immediately after discovering the country’s first COVID-19 infection after 102 days. By Friday, the health officials had found a total number of 30 active cases from the same cluster. It seems the transmission of the virus all came from a single family in Auckland.
The whole COVID-19 strategy remains the same — total elimination. New Zealand was able to got rid of the coronavirus and have kept it out of the country for 102 days, and it is now time to do it again, according to Ardern.
Election day is coming, and Ardern is already under pressure for the upcoming election in the country. The opposition, National Party, has already accused Ardern of failing to enhance the quarantine system and of withholding information.
According to Ardern, the results of the contact tracing and genome testing have found no viable link from the current outbreak to the country’s border areas and managed quarantine facilities. Some experts assume that the virus could have been moving through the community silently since the first outbreak in the previous months of the year. However, Ardern cleared the confusion by stating that the genome sequencing has disapproved the theory of these health experts.
The Prime Minister also said that there’s no chance of this virus being dormant because it is completely new to the country.
Chris Hipkins, the Health Minister, stated earlier that the virus outbreak had originated from either Australia or Britain.
Ardern was confident that her officials would spot the perimeter of the cluster. If it is not the source, then they would isolate the cases and remove some of the restrictions they had placed there.
The case that the authorities have identified so far is of a worker at an Auckland-based Cool store owned by the US-based Americold Realty Trust. The worker was detected with the novel coronavirus on July 31st. Almost 12 active cases of the coronavirus have been linked to the US-based organization facility.
It’s not just Auckland — the whole country is imposed with level 3 restrictions, where citizens are required to remain at home. The restrictions are not as severe as the previous five weeks of level 4 restrictions across the nation, which was imposed during the earlier part of the year.
Prime Minister Ardern has defined this approach as a “short but precautionary hold.” The results of an on-going investigation is believed to have the capability to finally stamp the virus. She said that the current restriction period would last for 14 days, which is also the incubation period of the virus.
The opposition, National Party, has been putting pressure on Ardern to postpone the upcoming September election because they have been unable to do any kind of election campaigns.
The restriction has given an unfair advantage to Ardern’s party, according to the opposition.
Last Friday, Ardern said that she would come up with a final decision regarding the election within 24 hours.
There were concerns from the financial experts that this lockdown extension would incur huge economy cost. Ardern has announced the extension of a wage subsidy scheme and mortgage deferral program, which are specifically designed to support businesses and safeguard the jobs of the people.