Two new locally transmitted cases of Covid-19 was reported in New Zealand on Wednesday a few hours prior to an announcement from the authorities whether the current lockdown in the country’s largest city of Auckland was to be extended or not. The two persons are siblings attending South Auckland’s Papatoetoe high school and one of them is known to a student in the center of the city’s latest community cluster.
The student who tested positive on Saturday is a class mate of the infected girl while the other is a sibling of the new found case attending high school. As reported by the authorities, both are in managed isolation. Subsequent to a father, mother and daughter testing positive for the virus, with no hint from they could have contracted the disease, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Sunday declared a three day lock down for the whole of Auckland. The rest of the country remains at level 2 restriction. It is reported, that the mother of the family at the center of the outbreak of the virus engages in laundry work for airlines close to the airport. This being said, there is no evidence or confirmation that the family contracted the virus from this facility.
Prime Minister Arden was supposed to announce local time 1630 hrs that the Auckland lockdown was due to end at midnight on Wednesday. She was also expected to announce if the rest announce if the rest of the country was to step a level down on the country’s Covid response scale. In spite of 20,000 person being tested in Auckland, news of the 02 new cases comes in the wake after it was reported of zero community spread. It is now reported that there are 31 people who have had close contact and 1,532 casual contacts of original virus at Papatoetoe High School. Of them, 29 have tested negative while one tested positive and one other remains outstanding,
While businesses have been hit hard and are still recovering post lockdown in 2020, the news of the latest detections have caused anguish amongst Aucklanders. However, testing of Auckland’s wastewater on 15 February found “no evidence of any community cases of Covid-19 in wastewater sampled”, apart from in sewage lines connected to quarantine facilities, where positive cases are held.
The North Island city of Rotorua and the South Island city of Christchurch also returned negative results. New Zealand’s chief science advisor, Dame Juliet Ann Gerrard, praised the latest cases for undergoing tests promptly. “Big shout out to cases A and B for getting a test promptly, which meant we found this chain of transmission,” she said on Twitter.
Epidemiologists said the discovery of more cases in the community should mean an extension to Auckland’s lockdown and level 2 country-wide, particularly as the source of the original infection remained unidentified. “Given this, and the persisting uncertainty, it’s possibly best to keep the current alert level settings for a few more days,” said Otago university epidemiologist Nick Wilson, to local media.
Neighboring Australia has been urges to suspend an arrangement which permitted New Zealanders to enter Australia without having to serve the 14 day period of hotel quarantine. This comes in the wake of the new outbreak.