New Zealand reports three new Covid-19 local cases, first since Jan

MELBOURNE (REUTERS) – New Zealand on Sunday (Feb 14) reported three new locally acquired Covid-19 cases, the country’s first since late January, when a returned traveller tested positive after leaving quarantine.

New Zealand’s minister for Covid-19 response, Chris Hipkins, said the three cases were a couple and their daughter in Auckland, and that genomic testing was being conducted to see if the family’s infection was linked to any highly infectious variants.

The new cases, the first since Jan 24, forced Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to rush back to the capital Wellington, skipping a gay pride event in Auckland she was due to attend on Sunday afternoon.

“Our system has swung into action. We are gathering all of the facts as quickly as we can. And the system that’s served us so well in the past is really gearing up to do so again,”Hipkins told a hastily called media conference.

New Zealand – which had gone more than two months without infection before the January outbreak – is set to start inoculating its 5 million people against the new coronavirus on Feb 20, after receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine earlier than anticipated.

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