New Zealand’s first coronavirus outbreak in more than 100 days may have come from chilled products shipped from a Melbourne coldstore, according to local media.
The country recorded seven new coronavirus cases overnight as the fallout from the emerging cluster continues to grow, with 37 cases now linked to the latest outbreak.
An Americold Logistics storage facility in Mt Wellington, Auckland, was shut down this week when a worker and three of his family members tested positive.
As of Friday five staff and one contractor who visited the site had tested positive.
An Americold Logistics storage facility in Mt Wellington, Auckland, was shut down this week when a worker and three of his family members tested positive
New Zealand ‘s (Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern pictured) first coronavirus outbreak in more than 100 days may have come from chilled products shipped from a Melbourne coldstore, according to local media
The country’s Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield told reporters on Saturday he had been talking to his counterparts in Victoria.
He confirmed that authorities are investigating whether the outbreak was sparked in Melbourne, as Americold also has facilities in the Australian city.
‘We’re looking at that possibility, it’s part of the overall puzzle and we are leaving no stone unturned,’ Dr Bloomfield said.
Testing is currently underway on employees in Melbourne to confirm whether there are any connections between the two outbreaks.
There have been two confirmed COVID-19 cases at the Melbourne facility in the past fortnight, according to Stuff.
Mr Bloomfield on Friday said the Mt Wellington venue was being ‘thoroughly’ investigated from the border through to the coolstore.
This is despite earlier in the week saying chilled products were unlikely to be the source of the outbreak.
A nurse performs a Covid-19 test on someone in the line at the testing centre at Eden Park on Friday
Jetstar on Saturday cancelled all flights around the country after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was forced to extend New Zealand’s lockdown on Friday.
Saturday’s seven new cases were spread within the community and brought the total number of active cases in New Zealand to 56.
Six cases were linked to the growing cluster in Auckland and one is under investigation.
Dr Bloomfield said at least 1,090 close contacts have been identified and 934 have been contacted.
He encouraged New Zealanders to continue to maintain social distancing and get tested if they display coronavirus symptoms.
‘There’s no shame or blame in having either this virus or having any other infectious disease,’ Dr Bloomfield said.
People walk through Wellington in New Zealand using face masks on Friday
A record number of 23,846 coronavirus tests were processed on Friday.
Dr Bloomfield also said 45 requests to leave Auckland’s borders had been confirmed and 1.6 million masks had been dispatched across community groups.
Two cases that were confirmed in Tokoroa, 200km away from Auckland, on Friday have been transferred to a facility in Auckland and are in isolation.
New Zealand went 102 days without recording a locally transmitted case of coronavirus but four new infected family members tested positive on Tuesday.
The former prime minister of the Cook Islands, 82-year-old Dr Joseph Williams, was hospitalised with COVID-19 on Friday.
It is not known if the doctor, prominent within the Auckland and Pacific community, had been in contact with someone from the original family.
The former prime minister of the Cook Islands, Joseph Williams (pictured above), was also hospitalised with COVID-19 on Friday and it is unclear who he was in contact with
His medical practice is near the Americold cool store, in south Auckland.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern extended the country’s lockdown until August 26 after the explosion of coronavirus cases.
She announced that Auckland would stay in level 3 restrictions and the rest of the nation would remain on level 2, with no plans for a level 4 lockdown.
‘What is important is making sure we establish the perimeter of the cluster and to stop it from growing,’ the Prime Minister told reporters.
Jetstar announced they would be suspending all flights in New Zealand from Tuesday until August 26 after Ms Ardern’s lockdown announcement.
‘During this period travel restrictions will vary across the country and as a result, Jetstar has temporarily suspended all domestic flights from Tuesday 11.59.
‘If you have been impacted by flight cancellations, you will be contacted directly by Jetstar over the next 24 hours with your available options,’ a statement read.
Anyone who has tested positive to the virus is required to quarantine in a managed facility.
Jetstar (pictured) cancelled all flights in New Zealand following the lockdown announcement
New Zealand was unexpectedly back into lockdown after 102 days without recording a locally transmitted case of the virus (a child receiving coronavirus testing pictured above)
Residents may only leave their homes for essential exercise, shopping and to provide care under the level 3 restrictions.
People should stay in their immediate household bubble and school and work should be conducted from home where possible.
Businesses are only open for takeaway and public venues like libraries and gyms are closed.
Level 2 restrictions allow New Zealanders to gather up to a limit of 100 people and they are encouraged to socially distance at all times.
Businesses may be open to the public provided they keep a record of customer details and maintain physical distancing.
New Zealanders are encouraged to wear a face mask as a precaution.
The lockdown measures are set to remain until 11.59pm on August 26.
‘We will review these settings on August 21, we want to give about a week’s time to see how we are travelling before we review again,’ Ms Ardern said.