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Mystery cases force New Zealand to lock down Auckland

February 14, 2021

New Zealand's largest city is going into lockdown after the discovery of three unexplained coronavirus cases in the country.

A empty Takapuna bar before the lockdown commences on February 14, 2021 in Auckland, New Zealand
Bars in Auckland emptied out as the city prepares to lock down for three daysImage: Dave Rowland/Getty Images

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Sunday announced a three-day lockdown in Auckland after three unexplained cases of coronavirus were discovered.

After an urgent meeting with her cabinet, Ardern said she and ministers had decided to take a cautious approach until they could find out more about the outbreak.

"We have stamped out the virus before and we will do it again," Ardern said at a press conference in the capital, Wellington.

What do we know about the cases?

The cases identified on Sunday involved a couple and their daughter.

Health officials have reached out to airlines, as the woman in the infected family works for an airline catering company in their laundry facilities.

They are the first local infections to have popped up in the country since January 24.

Among the most critical factors are whether the infections are from contagious variants, and the precise nature of any community transmission.

First lockdown in months

The lockdown is New Zealand's first for six months. It represents a significant setback in the nation's largely successful efforts to control coronavirus.

The country had successfully stamped out community spread, after closing its international borders and implementing strict social distancing rules early on in the pandemic.

There was global envy recently as New Zealanders began to attend concerts and sporting events without being required to wear masks.

rs/rc (Reuters, AFP)