New Zealand probes possibility of coronavirus arriving in country via freight
WELLINGTON (NEW ZEALAND) – Officials in New Zealand are probing whether or not the first coronavirus cases in the country after more than three months came via freight.
After four members of a family in Auckland were found to be infected with the virus, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern reimposed tight restrictions on movement in the country’s biggest city and travel restrictions across New Zealand.
Health officials are puzzled over the source of the infection as there was no local transmission of the virus in 102 days and the four members of the family had not travelled abroad.
“We are working hard to put together pieces of the puzzle on how this family got infected,” said Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield.
Investigators are exploring the possibility of the virus coming into the country via freight. Bloomfield said surface testing is underway in an Auckland cold storage facility where a man from the infected family was employed.
“We know the virus can survive within refrigerated environments for quite some time,” Bloomfield told the media.
Auckland is home to around 1.7 million people and residents were given only hours to prepare for the level 3 lockdown on Wednesday. This requires people to stay at home unless for essential trips.
Level 2 restrictions were imposed on the rest of the nation. The curbs will be in place until Friday.
“I have huge sympathy … this is unsettling,” Ardern said. “Stay kind, look after one another.”
While police set up roadblocks, there were long queues at testing centres and supermarkets began restricting the sale of staple products to prevent hoarding.
On Wednesday, it was confirmed that two members of the infected family had visited tourist spots in Rotorua while displaying symptoms and a third had gone to work at a finance company in Auckland. Bloomfield said three employees of the firm are displaying symptoms of the virus. The office has been closed and testing is going on.
He said in the coming days, mass testing will be conducted.
(Photos syndicated via Reuters)
This story has been edited by BH staff and is published from a syndicated field