A three-day lockdown starts Sunday in New Zealand’s largest city Auckland, after the mysterious emergence of three coronavirus cases.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern decided on the cautious approach after a meeting with other lawmakers in the cabinet. The lockdown for the 1.7 million people who live in Auckland starts just before midnight Sunday. The rest of the country will also see heightened restrictions.
Ardern said the three days should give officials time to gather more information about the cases, conduct more testing and determine if there is further community spread, the BBC reported. An Auckland father, mother and daughter tested positive, prompting the measures.
It is New Zealand’s first lockdown in six months. The country has largely been successful at controlling the spread of the virus. The island nation of 5 million people has reported 2,300 cases and 25 deaths since the start of the pandemic. The lack of community spread allowed the country to go back to work, and people even started attending concerts and sporting events without the need to wear masks or take other precautions.
The latest lockdown will delay the start of the America’s Cup sailing regatta.
Ardern canceled her appearance at Auckland’s Big Gay Out in order to manage the outbreak.
“I’m asking New Zealanders to continue to be strong and to be kind,” Ardern said. “I know we all feel the same way when this happens. We all get that sense of ‘Not again.’ But remember, we have been here before and that means we know how to get out of this again, and that is together.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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