New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is due to announce on Friday whether a lockout will be eased or extended in the country’s biggest city, as authorities are struggling to contain a coronavirus outbreak. Ardern placed Auckland, home to around 1.7 million people, in lockdown on Wednesday, just hours after the discovery of four new COVID-19 cases in a family living in the area. She has introduced national social distancing initiatives.
Health Minister Chris Hipkins said the cause of the outbreak was still under investigation on Friday, addressing remarks made by Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters late Thursday that a violation of quarantine facilities was known as the trigger. Health officials said they were looking into the “small risk” that the virus was transported on packages of frozen goods earlier in the week. Ten of the latest casess have been linked to a cool store that takes frozen products imported from overseas.
New Zealanders cheered when Ardern appeared to eradicate communal coronavirus transmission with the earlier rough lockout that forced virtually all to stay at home. Yet there is a divided opinion as to whether the 40-year-old leader will repeat that approach, despite its immense economic cost and that global evidence that the virus can not be permanently eliminated.