New Zealand has instituted a lockdown for the first time since August after three members of an Auckland family tested positive for the coronavirus. It's not clear how the parents and their teenage daughter contracted COVID-19, the first case of apparent community spread in the country in months, but the mother works for a company that provides laundry services for international flights. Auckland, New Zealand's largest city, will go on lockdown for three days, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Sunday, per NBC News. During that time, businesses will close, travel will be restricted, residents will be asked to stay home, and other measures will be taken while mass testing and contact tracing is carried out to determine whether the outbreak extends beyond the one family, another member of which is also experiencing symptoms but tested negative, NPR reports.
Most new cases of the virus in New Zealand are detected in returning travelers, who are then required to quarantine, but no one in the family had traveled recently and the mother reportedly did not go into planes herself, or have any contact with travelers. She had not been at work for eight days prior to testing positive; the company she works for is temporarily shutting down to investigate, the New Zealand Herald reports. A writer for the Spinoff notes in a column some of the possibilities, including the chance that the mother came in contact with someone who does interact with travelers or crew members. At least two of the cases are the more transmissible UK variant, known as B117, Al Jazeera reports. The rest of New Zealand will be placed on Alert Level 2, the third-highest of the country's system, for three days as well, and some large events have been canceled as a result. "We have stamped out the virus before, and we will do it again," Ardern said. (Read more New Zealand stories.)