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New Zealand reopens Auckland city centre after COVID-19 scare, mask-wearing urged

New Zealand reopens Auckland city centre after COVID-19 scare, mask-wearing urged

FILE PHOTO: A person wearing a face mask sits at a bus stop next to posted safety guidelines on the first day of New Zealand's new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) safety measure that mandates wearing of a mask on public transport, in Auckland, New Zealand, August 31, 2020. REUTERS/Fiona Goodall

WELLINGTON: New Zealand reopened downtown Auckland on Friday (Nov 13) after contact tracing of a new COVID-19 case revealed it was linked to a known case from a border isolation facility, reversing an earlier call for people to work from home.

Health Minister Chris Hipkins said genome sequence testing of the locally transmitted case, which was discovered on Thursday, had shown it was linked to a known case and there was less risk of a wider unseen spread.

"Though we do want to increase testing over the weekend and over the coming weeks to give ourselves greater assurance on that," he told a news conference.

READ: Australia reports one local COVID-19 case as two New Zealand health workers test positive

Auckland will remain at alert level 1, which means there are no restrictions on movement but he added the government is making mask wearing mandatory on public transport in the city and on airlines.

Hipkins added that scanning of QR codes for contact tracing purposes may become mandatory at places where a lot of people gather, such as large public events, he said.

Authorities have also asked everyone who attended locations of interest in Auckland at key times to get tested for COVID-19, regardless of whether they have symptoms.

New Zealand, which has managed to virtually eliminate community-transmitted COVID-19 twice, reported four new cases on Friday, all in managed isolation. It has had 1,639 infections and 25 deaths.

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Source: Reuters/jt


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