Covid-19 New Zealand: 1.6 million residents in Auckland go into lockdown

New Zealand recorded no new locally transmitted COVID-19 cases a day after three people tested positive in Auckland that sent the city into a snap lockdown.

The Ministry of Health said there were no new cases recorded on Monday but five cases of COVID-19 were reported in managed isolation facility.

An Auckland couple and their daughter tested positive to COVID-19 on Sunday, becoming the country’s first cases of coronavirus in the community since January.

The results of genomic sequencing revealed the mother and daughter have the UK variant of COVID-19.

Contact tracing has identified 10 close contacts outside the household. Six of the close contacts have returned a negative test and four results still pending.

On Monday morning, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it was not clear how the Auckland residents contracted the UK strain of COVID 19.

Ms Ardern said the cases were not linked to hotel quarantine.

“One of the workplaces in question is the place where they do the laundry for international flights,” Ms Ardern said.

“The other possibility is international airline crew.

“International airline crew have the uniforms washed and cleaned at the laundry where the individual in question who’s become infected works.”

The mother from the infected family works at an airline catering company. As a precaution, food and beverage on Air New Zealand flights have been suspended for domestic routes.

Auckland moved to Alert Level 3 means people are asked to stay at home and work remotely if possible. Schools, day-care centres, shops and public venues are largely closed, and gatherings are restricted to 10 people.

For the rest of New Zealand, Alert Level 2 requires social distancing and mask wearing, but schools and businesses remain open. Gatherings are restricted to 100 people.

In response to the three Auckland cases, Australia stopped quarantine-free travel for New Zealanders.

New Zealanders that fly into Australia from Monday will have to spend a fortnight in hotel quarantine. The new rule will remain in place for the next three days before the situation is reassessed.