New Zealand reported a breakthrough Thursday in tracing the supply of a Covid-19 outbreak that plunged the nation into lockdown, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern saying it ought to assist “stamp out” the virus.
Well being officers have been making an attempt to find out how an Auckland man contracted the coronavirus this week, ending a six-month run of no neighborhood circumstances in New Zealand.
Assessments confirmed the person had a model of the Delta pressure present in Australia, and Ardern mentioned investigations narrowed down the origin to an individual who arrived from Sydney on August 7.
She mentioned the traveller had been in quarantine and hospital since touching down, indicating the virus had not been in the neighborhood so long as initially feared.
“We imagine we’ve got uncovered the piece of the puzzle we had been on the lookout for,” Ardern instructed reporters.
She mentioned discovering the outbreak’s supply additionally elevated the “capability to circle the virus, lock it down and stamp it out”.
Case numbers grew by 11 in a single day to a complete of 21, she mentioned.
Ardern ordered a three-day nationwide lockdown — New Zealand’s first in 15 months — when the primary case emerged on Tuesday, with Auckland and close by Coromandel dealing with restrictions for every week.
“We’re all ready for circumstances to worsen earlier than they get higher, that is all the time the sample in these outbreaks,” she mentioned.
However she mentioned there have been grounds for cautious optimism “as a result of we imagine it wasn’t right here for lengthy earlier than it was discovered”.
The contaminated traveller arrived from Sydney on a so-called “pink zone” flight, organized to deliver again New Zealanders stranded when Wellington suspended a trans-Tasman journey bubble as a result of a number of outbreaks in Australia.
The particular person examined constructive two days later and was hospitalised every week after that.
Officers mentioned it was nonetheless unclear how the virus unfold into the neighborhood and 1,000 shut contacts of constructive circumstances had been being assessed.
A call is due Friday on whether or not the three-day lockdown might be prolonged or finish by Saturday.
‘Covid zero’ technique
New Zealand has adopted a coverage of eliminating the virus in the neighborhood, quite than containing it, which has resulted in solely 26 deaths in a inhabitants of 5 million.
Neighbouring Australia has been pursuing the same “Covid zero” technique, however is struggling to include outbreaks of the Delta variant.
Well being authorities on Thursday urged mass Covid testing for a whole Outback city in far western New South Wales, the place an outbreak that started in Sydney two months in the past is spreading.
The realm is grappling with Australia’s first important outbreak in Aboriginal communities, with specialist navy well being groups deployed this week to spice up sluggish vaccination efforts.
Early within the pandemic, Wilcannia’s roughly 750 residents put up indicators in town’s limits asking travellers to not cease — fearing the virus may obliterate an already susceptible neighborhood, the place greater than 60 % determine as Indigenous.