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Three more coronavirus cases discovered in Auckland as outbreak grows

Three more coronavirus cases discovered in Auckland as outbreak grows”

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, seen here in May, said Tuesday that the country had four new cases of COVID-19.

He understood there were further confirmed cases relating to family members of the positive Americold workers, but said details around these would be released by the Ministry of Health later today.

Health officials are now scrambling to trace close contacts of the South Auckland family and experts warn there may already be several dozen cases of the virus circulating in the community.

"We can not afford to let this virus spread", New Zealand's director-general of health, Dr. Ashley Bloomfield, said in a statement.

Another new case is a returned traveller from the Philippines, who is not counted in the community cases.

Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said one of the people who tested positive works at an Americold food cold-storage facility in Auckland, which was being swabbed to check if it was a possible source of the infections.

"Given that they are linked, we are treating them as a cluster and we fully expect there to be new cases", Dr Bloomfield said.

He said the Auckland facilities received imported goods from 15 countries, including Australia, China and the United States.

"If you're someone who views politicians suspiciously, then please by all means listen to the independent doctors, scientists - those who are our source of advice that we lean on", Ardern said at the daily media briefing on Thursday. Also, the entire country entered a Phase 2 lockdown that includes social distancing and bans on gatherings larger than 100.

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On Wednesday, authorities confirmed a woman in her 50s, who had travelled from Islamabad to New Zealand via Dubai, had also tested positive.

It proved stunningly successful back in autumn, when a 51-day lockdown eradicated the virus from the community and allowed Kiwis to live lives free of any restrictions, aside from border controls.

"It's not new. Some of those conspiracy theories around COVID-19 "not being real" have existed from the very beginning of COVID-19's emergence globally". It seems very clear the location of the outbreak [was the facility].

"All of the new confirmed cases came from testing, and I found out about them first thing this morning". The family has no history of worldwide travels.

"A mobile testing unit went to the airport site and all the staff there have now been tested, and a mobile testing unit went to the homes of symptomatic people from the Mount Wellington site yesterday and they've all been tested", Dr Bloomfield said.

Whether the initial 72-hour lockdown in Auckland will be extended after Friday is still uncertain.

Ardern's leadership has been widely praised, and opinion polls indicate support for her liberal Labour Party has surged ahead of a general election scheduled for next month.

"As we all learnt from our first experience with COVID, once you identify a cluster, it grows before it slows". "But as we find each case and do that thorough interview and investigation, that will help".

"The last time we did this we made sure we had the latest information available to us before we made the decisions".



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