Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced that the current coronavirus disease (COVID-19) alert levels in Auckland and the rest of the country have been extended until September 21. Most of New Zealand is currently under level 2 restrictions in the country's four-tier alert scale, under which most businesses are allowed to remain open with social distancing measures in place and gatherings of up to 100 people allowed. However, the northern city of Auckland remains under enhanced level 2.5 outbreak control measures implemented following the identification of a cluster of COVID-19 cases in the city in August, the first in New Zealand for more than three months. Although some restrictions in the city were eased from its level 3 lockdown at the end of August, public gatherings are limited to a maximum of ten people.
General measures, including the mandatory use of face masks on public transport, remain in place throughout the country. However, from Monday, September 14, capacity limits will no longer apply on public transport and aircraft, allowing operators to remove previous seating restrictions. If COVID-19 infections remain low outside of Auckland, the rest of New Zealand is expected to move to alert level 1 from September 21, under which restrictions on public gatherings are removed, ahead of the general election on October 17.
New Zealand's borders remain closed to almost all non-citizens. Anyone entering the country must undergo quarantine or managed isolation in an approved facility for a minimum of 14 days. Arrivals must then test negative for COVID-19 before entering the community.
As of September 14, there have been 1797 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand with 24 associated deaths. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected in the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Since then, human-to-human transmission of the virus has been confirmed.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, and tiredness. Some patients may experience other symptoms such as body pains, nasal congestion, headache, conjunctivitis, sore throat, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell or a rash on skin or discoloration of fingers or toes. These symptoms (in most cases mild) appear gradually. Generally, most patients (around 80 percent) recover from the disease without being hospitalized.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.
Copyright and Disclaimer