New Zealand announced it would shut down Auckland, its biggest city, after reporting four new coronavirus cases, Reuters reports.
The four positive tests were the first signs of community transmission in 102 days.
New Zealand has long been praised for its decisive action to prevent the spread of the virus, which has paid for months as other nations continued to see infections.
The news reportedly sent people rushing to supermarkets to stock up on supplies.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the city would shutter schools and businesses and restrict gatherings of more than 10 people as a “precautionary approach.”
All cases in one family:
All four cases were among one family in Auckland, health chief Ashley Bloomfield told reporters.
The family has no history of international travel, suggesting that they were infected by an undiagnosed person in the community.
Auckland’s shutdown will be reimposed for three days at which point Ardern will announce the next steps.
“This is something we have prepared for,” Ardern said. “We have had 102 days and it was easy to feel New Zealand was out of the woods. No country has gone as far as we did without having a resurgence. And because we were the only ones, we had to plan. And we have planned.”
New Zealand on alert:
While Auckland is the only area to shut down, the rest of New Zealand would enter their “alert level 2” for three days, which means gatherings would be restricted to 100 people.
Bloomfield said the unknown cause of the four infections in Auckland means that there were likely to be more positive tests in the coming days.
Bloomfield stressed the need to wear masks when it is impossible to socially distance.
“The case is a wake up call for any complacency that may have set in,” Bloomfield said.