Auckland to go to Alert Level 3 following three Covid-19 community cases

Source: 1News

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has tonight announced Auckland will go into Alert level 3 from tonight after three new Covid-19 cases were reported in the community.

As of 11.59pm tonight, Auckland will move into Alert Level 3 for three days until 11.59pm on February 17, Ardern said in a press conference with Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield this evening. The rest of New Zealand will enter Level 2. 

Any update to the alert level settings will be provided tomorrow afternoon.

It follows a full Cabinet meeting this afternoon to discuss the latest community cases.

Three people - a mother, father and daughter from South Auckland - were reported this afternoon as positive cases in the community. They have since been transferred to the Auckland quarantine facility. 

Bloomfield said a fourth person has symptoms but has tested negative. They are isolating at home. 

Genomic testing is underway for the first two cases to determine if it is a more transmissible strain of Covid-19. 

"We don't yet have a complete picture of the potential source of the infection and spread, if any, beyond one household," she said. 

"Regardless, Cabinet has chosen to respond with a cautious approach that has served us so well previously and with the working assumption just in case it could be one of the more transmissible strains of Covid that we need to act with a high degree of caution around." 

She said three days "should give us enough time to gather further information, undertake large-scale testing and establish if there has been wider community transmission". 

Under Alert Level 3, Aucklanders will be asked to stay home to avoid the risk of spreading Covid-19, but can expand their bubble to connect with close family and whānau, bring in caregivers and support isolated people. People should also work from home unless it is not possible. 

People have been asked to maintain physical distancing of two metres outside or one metre in controlled environments and have been strongly encouraged to wear face coverings when physical distancing cannot be maintained. 

People can also travel within their local area for shopping or getting exercise, but travel between regions is heavily restricted. 

Children have also been asked to stay home from school. Schools from Year 1 to 10 and early childhood education centres can open for children whose parents must be at work. 

Public venues, including libraries, museums, cinemas, food courts, gyms, pools, playgrounds and markets, must also close.

Under Alert Level 2, people can leave their homes but are advised to maintain social distancing measures. 

Ardern was meant to attend the Big Gay Out event in Auckland today but returned to Wellington to be briefed on the cases.