Coronavirus: Infected shop worker sparks stay-home order in Auckland

A higher alert level may mean gathering limits and extra precautions on social distancing. PHOTO: REUTERS

AUCKLAND (BLOOMBERG) - New Zealand health officials are asking people who work in downtown Auckland to stay home on Friday (Nov 13) while they trace the movements of a person who may have contracted coronavirus from within the community.

"We are asking people to take enhanced precautions of working from home, wearing masks, social distancing so we can get the extra time that we need to get extra information," Minister for Covid Response Chris Hipkins told reporters Thursday. "We won't make any decisions around alert levels until tomorrow."

A higher alert level may mean limits on gatherings and extra precautions on social distancing.

Following a community outbreak in mid-August, Auckland was placed in a lockdown that closed customer-facing businesses and prevented most travel into and out of the region.

The infected person is a shop assistant in inner-city Auckland, and went to work despite being advised not to after having symptoms and taking a Covid-19 test, the Ministry of Health said in a statement.

As well as having contact with some close friends, the person visited retail outlets and used Uber cars during the period when he was infectious, the ministry said.

New Zealand earlier this year succeeded in eliminating community transmission of the coronavirus by imposing a strict nationwide lockdown.

After the August community outbreak that affected 179 people, the only cases have been returned overseas travellers diagnosed during mandatory quarantine, or a few isolated cases linked to foreign workers in the shipping industry.

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