COVID-19 returns to New Zealand after 102 days

File: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said four cases had been detected in a single family in Auckland from an unknown source.

File: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said four cases had been detected in a single family in Auckland from an unknown source.

AFP/Mark Mitchell

WELLINGTON - New Zealand's dream run of 102 days without locally transmitted coronavirus ended Tuesday, prompting a stay-at-home lockdown order for the country's largest city.

After receiving global praise for successfully containing the virus, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said four cases had been detected in a single family in Auckland from an unknown source.

"After 102 days, we have our first cases of COVID-19 outside of managed isolation or quarantine facilities... we have also planned and prepared for it," Ardern said.

READ: COVID-19: New Zealand goes on lockdown

As a result of the infections, mobile phones nationwide received an emergency text that set off blaring alerts and said "if you are in Auckland STAY HOME... and SAVE LIVES".

Until Tuesday, the World Health Organization had hailed New Zealand as an example to others for having "successfully eliminated community transmission".

It has reported just 22 deaths in a population of five million and had previously held off community transmission since 1 May.

READ: New Zealand clears its last COVID-19 case

Kiwis had enjoyed a near-normal lifestyle with no social distancing and spectators allowed at sports and cultural events, although borders were strictly controlled.

But health authorities had repeatedly warned people not to be complacent and said a second wave of infections was "inevitable".

Source
AFP