Kiwis rocked by COVID-19 surge
BREAKING NEWS: The conclusion of New Zealand’s successful Super Rugby has been cast in doubt because of a surge in COVID-19 cases.
New Zealand announced its first locally transmitted coronavirus infections more than 100 days on Tuesday and issued a stay-at-home lockdown order for the country’s largest city – Auckland.
The national body, New Zealand Rugby, responded with a curt statement.
“NZR is currently assessing the impact on rugby following the announcement that Auckland will tomorrow [Wednesday] move to Covid-19 Level 3 and the rest of the country to Level 2,” the statement said.
“NZR is in close dialogue with Government and an update will be given tomorrow [Wednesday].”
The sudden surge in cases has not only cast doubt over this week’s Super Rugby Aotearoa matches – Highlanders versus Hurrican and Blues versus Crusaders – it could impact on New Zealand’s plans to host the Rugby Championship later this year.
After receiving global praise for its success containing the virus, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said four cases had been detected in a single family in Auckland from an unknown source.
“After 102 days, we have our first cases of COVID-19 outside of managed isolation or quarantine facilities,” she told the country in a televised address.
“We have all worked incredibly hard to prevent this scenario.
“We have also planned and prepared for it.”
Statement from @NZRugby:
“NZR is currently assessing the impact on rugby following the announcement that Auckland will tomorrow move to Covid-19 Level 3 and the rest of the country to Level 2.
NZR is in close dialogue with Government and an update will be given tomorrow.” pic.twitter.com/ZLKnMyXqqtADVERTISEMENT
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) August 11, 2020
Until Tuesday, the World Health Organization had hailed the country as an example to others for having “successfully eliminated community transmission”.
New Zealand reported just 22 deaths and had not recorded community transmission since May 1.
As a result, New Zealanders had been enjoying a near-normal lifestyle with no social distancing and spectators allowed at sports and cultural events.
But health authorities had repeatedly warned people not to be complacent and said a second wave of infections was “inevitable”.
Auckland will be locked down for at least three days from Wednesday and some social distancing restrictions will be reintroduced in the rest of the country.