THREE workers at a refrigerated storage facility in Auckland have tested positive to coronavirus

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THREE workers at a refrigerated storage facility in Auckland have tested positive to coronavirus

Three more staff members at the warehouse facility in New Zealand have tested positive to coronavirus.The new infections at Americold, a cold stora

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Three more staff members at the warehouse facility in New Zealand have tested positive to coronavirus.

The new infections at Americold, a cold storage facility in Auckland, come after another employee tested positive for virus on Tuesday, taking the cluster total to four. 

There were 13 new community transmitted cases announced on Thursday, all of which have been linked back to the original Auckland family clauster.

Americold managing director Richard Winnall told the New Zealand Herald there was still a lot people awaiting test results.

‘It’s not good. There’s a lot of anxiety and concern.’ 

The facility is at the centre of the investigation looking into how four people became infected with virus after the country recorded 102 days without community transmission.

A nurse prepares to test people at a Covid-19 testing facility in Eden Terrace in Auckland in Thursday

A nurse prepares to test people at a Covid-19 testing facility in Eden Terrace in Auckland in Thursday

The new infections at Americold (pictured), a cold storage facility in Auckland, come after another employee tested positive for virus on Tuesday, taking the cluster total to four

The new infections at Americold (pictured), a cold storage facility in Auckland, come after another employee tested positive for virus on Tuesday, taking the cluster total to four

The workplace is set to undergo testing for COVID-19 amid fears the virus survived on refrigerated freight sent from overseas and then spread to staff.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made the drastic move to force New Zealand back into lockdown on Wednesday after four new COVID-19 cases emerged. 

Health experts are still trying to figure out how the cluster began as it seemed the country had eliminated the virus.

They are using genome sequencing – looking at the genetic material, or DNA, of an organism – to track the source of the infection.

One of China’s top epidemiologists Wu Xunyou warned the virus could survive up to three months on frozen food packaging, adding credence to the theory about New Zealand’s new cases.

He issued the warning in June, after the virus was transmitted on chopping boards used for imported salmon. 

Police question drivers as they head in and out of Auckland on SH1 north of Wellsford on Wednesday (pictured) amid new Stage Three lockdown

Police question drivers as they head in and out of Auckland on SH1 north of Wellsford on Wednesday (pictured) amid new Stage Three lockdown

Two women wearing face masks and carrying toilet paper walk on a street in downtown Auckland, New Zealand (pictured on Wednesday night)

Two women wearing face masks and carrying toilet paper walk on a street in downtown Auckland, New Zealand (pictured on Wednesday night)

‘We do know from studies overseas that, actually, the virus can survive in some refrigerated environments for quite some time,’ director general of health Ashley Bloomfield said on Wednesday.

‘We start by looking at all the options and ruling then out, and that’s the position we’re in at the moment.’ 

Testing has not shown the virus can survive on the frozen food itself.

The race is on to track the source as the number of cases continues to grow, with a student at Mt Albert Grammar School testing positive for the disease on Thursday. 

The government has been scrambling to control the outbreak, they are rushing to test about 50,000 people by the end of the week to stop the virus from spreading further throughout the community.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made the drastic move to force New Zealand back into lockdown on Wednesday after four new COVID-19 cases emerged

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made the drastic move to force New Zealand back into lockdown on Wednesday after four new COVID-19 cases emerged

A police officer wearing a mask gets his morning coffee from The Store in Kohimarama as Auckland wakes to a return to Stage Three lockdown (pictured on Thursday)

A police officer wearing a mask gets his morning coffee from The Store in Kohimarama as Auckland wakes to a return to Stage Three lockdown (pictured on Thursday)

Auckland, the city with the largest population, was placed under Stage Three lockdown on Wednesday while testing got under way. 

The move has forced families to stay-at-home for 72 hours. 

The rest of the country was placed under Stage Two restrictions – mandating social distancing and limits on the size of gatherings.

All aged care facilities will close their doors to everyone but staff from Wednesday to keep those residents safe.

‘This is tough for people, but it’s necessary. We need to protect the most vulnerable,’ Ms Ardern said. 

Jo Fahey gets her morning coffee at The Store in Kohimarama as Auckland wakes to a return to level three lockdown on Thursday

Jo Fahey gets her morning coffee at The Store in Kohimarama as Auckland wakes to a return to level three lockdown on Thursday

Ms Ardern also urged residents in Auckland to wear a mask or face covering when out in public. 

‘If you are in Auckland, please cover your face if you leave home – masks or a bandanna is fine,’ she said.

The new outbreak has baffled authorities who were certain the country had eliminated the virus. 

New Zealanders had been enjoying the return of their usual freedoms after an autumn lockdown proved effective in eliminating the deadly virus.

On Tuesday night, they were told those freedoms would be put on hold. 

More to come 

New Zealand records first cases of community transmission of COVID-19 for 102 days 

THE CASES

* Four members of a south Auckland family have tested positive to COVID-19.

* The ‘index case’ is a person in their 50s who has been symptomatic for five days and has no overseas travel history.

* Six family members received a rapid test on Tuesday evening; three tests came back positive and three are negative.

* A student at Auckland’s Mount Albert Grammar School has tested positive for COVID-19.

* Health authorities are awaiting the test results for another four ‘probable’ cases of coronavirus – three adults and a teenager – linked to a family cluster.

* Health officials are moving to isolate and test contacts of the family, including two Auckland workplaces.

THE RESPONSE

* Auckland returns to a ‘level three’ lockdown from noon on Wednesday until midnight on Friday. Aucklanders are being asked to stay home except for essential work or essential needs.

* The rest of New Zealand returns to ‘level two’ for the same timeframe, with caps on gatherings and the return of social distancing.

* These measures have been enacted to buy health officials time time to test and isolate contacts, and to locate the source of the outbreak.

* Every worker at NZ’s border regime and managed isolation facility will also be tested in the next few days.

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