New Zealand officials were scrambling to trace the source of an outbreak of the coronavirus, reporting 14 new cases on Thursday, as long queues of people formed to escape a renewed lockdown in the country’s biggest city or be tested for the virus.
The discovery of four infected family members in Auckland two days ago shocked a country that had not recorded a case of COVID-19 for more than three months, raising some criticism of the government’s handling of the crisis.
New Zealand announced on Thursday that there were 13 new cases in the community, and one overseas arrival who was in quarantine, bringing the total number of active cases to 36.
“We can see the seriousness of the situation we are in,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a televised media conference. “It’s being dealt with in an urgent but calm and methodical way.”
Ardern reimposed tight movement restrictions in Auckland and social distancing measures across the rest of the country on Wednesday, echoing her early response to the pandemic, which was praised for its apparent effectiveness.
Ardern noted that experience showed “things will get worse before they get better”, and more cases were likely to be reported in coming days.
“Once again we are reminded of how tricky this virus is and how easily it can spread,” she said. “Going hard and early is still the best course of action.”
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However, doubts over the origin of the latest cases have raised some questions about that strategy.
Officials reported on Thursday that three more people at...