New Zealand in coronavirus lockdown as British variant cases reported

Reading Time: 2 minutes

WELLINGTON (Reuters) – A coronavirus outbreak that sent New Zealand’s biggest city into a snap lockdown over the weekend involved the more transmissable UK variant, health officials confirmed on Monday, the first time the strain has been detected locally.

Auckland’s nearly 2 million residents were plunged into a new three-day lockdown on Sunday after three new COVID-19 cases were detected in the city.

Genome sequencing of two the cases – all three are immediate family – revealed they were the B1.1.7 variant. The source of the cases remains unknown, authorities said, adding they were scanning international genome databases for a match.

“We were absolutely right to make the decision to be extra cautious because we assumed it was going to be one of the more transmissible variants,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Facebook Live post on Monday.

The Auckland lockdown is the first in New Zealand in six months, after a hard shutdown early in the pandemic appeared to have largely eliminated local transmission. The country was ranked the best performing nation in an index by Australia’s Lowy Institute of almost 100 countries based on containment of the coronavirus.

Genome sequencing of two the cases – all three are immediate family – revealed they were the B1.1.7 variant. The source of the cases remains unknown, authorities said, adding they were scanning international genome databases for a match.

“We were absolutely right to make the decision to be extra cautious because we assumed it was going to be one of the more transmissible variants,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Facebook Live post on Monday.

The Auckland lockdown is the first in New Zealand in six months, after a hard shutdown early in the pandemic appeared to have largely eliminated local transmission. The country was ranked the best performing nation in an index by Australia’s Lowy Institute of almost 100 countries based on containment of the coronavirus.

%d bloggers like this: