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New Zealand puts largest city into three-day lockdown over three positive COVID-19 cases

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New Zealand put its largest city into lockdown Sunday — after just one family tested positive for COVID-19.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern ordered the three-day lockdown for Auckland after a couple and their daughter tested positive in the nation widely hailed for virtually eliminating the spread of the contagion.

The new community cases make just four in the last three months — with the lockdown the first in New Zealand in six months.

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“We have stamped out the virus before and we will do it again,” Ardern told a news conference in the capital, Wellington.

The level 3 restrictions require everyone to stay home except for essential shopping and essential work. It will also force a delay in America’s Cup sailing regatta.

“Three days should give us enough time to gather further information, undertake large-scale testing and establish if there has been wider community transmission,” Ardern said. “That is what we believe the cautious approach requires and it’s the right thing to do.”

Airlines were alerted because the woman in the infected family works for an airline catering company, LSG Sky Chefs, where she mostly works in laundry facilities, officials said. She had not been going aboard planes.

Her unidentified family was the first confirmed infection since a traveler returning from Europe tested positive on Jan. 24, which was the first case in two months.

New Zealand, with a population of 5 million, has reported a total of just over 2,330 cases and 25 deaths since the pandemic started.

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Scientists are carrying out genome sequencing to see whether they are variants, and also to see whether they match with any infected passengers, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said.

“New Zealand has kept COVID-19 contained better than almost any other country,” Hipkins said of the nation that closed its international borders and introduced strict social distancing early in the pandemic. “But as we have kept saying, there is no such thing as no risk.”

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