NZ declared "red zone" as Auckland thrown into lockdown

The exterior of a Holiday Inn hotel with curtains drawn across windows and a green sign

We all get that sense of 'Not again, ' " Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said at a news conference.

Reports from Auckland suggest the transition to alert level 3 has gone "reasonably well", says Ardern, with less people on public transport and out and about.

New Zealand has won worldwide praise for its tackling of the coronavirus pandemic, with the island country going months without community transmission.

"New Zealand has kept COVID-19 contained better than nearly any other country", Hipkins said.

One of the three residents who tested positive for the United Kingdom variant of the virus is a worker at Auckland's main airport, where they help clean airline cabin crew's laundry.

New Zealand's Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield, for his part, stated that the government is working "under the assumption that it is one of the new variants" of the coronavirus, which is believed to be more contagious than the existing COVID-19.

'We're in a position at the moment where we haven't quite identified whether or not the household cases that we picked up, whether or not there are any beyond that.

Rapid test results from the family's close contacts are likely to filter through on Monday, giving an early indication of the spread. Anyone who went to the supermarket between 3:45pm and 5pm on Friday, February 12 should isolate at home, monitor for Covid-19 symptoms, call Healthline to arrange a test and remain isolated until a negative result is returned.

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1 NEWS politics editor Jess Mutch McKay explains the steps officials have taken ahead of the latest community cases.

One new case arrived from United Arab Emirates via Malaysia, and three others arrived from India via the United Arab Emirates all on February 13. Officials said the mother works at a catering company that does laundry for airlines, and officials are investigating whether there is a link to infected passengers.

The new community cases make just four in the last three months - with the lockdown the first in New Zealand in six months.

Police officers are checking all vehicles arriving and leaving Auckland to ensure there is no non-essential travel. Alert level 2 is less restrictive.

Ardern told Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking today that the link to the British variant had led officials to think the virus might have come through airport transit or it had stemmed from an global airline crew member.

"The other possibility is worldwide airline crew".

Alternatively, fears of the virus re-infection, as conveyed by the World Health Organization (WHO) join China's latest trade-punitive measures for New Zealand, while suspending NZ seafood, to weigh on the risks. "And so, that is also one of the possibilities".

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