Remember when local CCP officials and top party health officials in Beijing tried to blame multiple COVID-19 outbreaks on imported shrimp (then later, salmon)? Well, looks like New Zealand – which arrogantly declared “victory” over COVID-19 in June before flinging its borders wide open, only to detect 4 new cases tied to the same Auckland family yesterday – is trying a similar approach.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern responded to the new cases by ordering a 3-day lockdown, and now New Zealand officials – eager to find a scapegoat – are investigating the possibility that the virus was “imported” via freight.
However, as Reuters pointed out, this line of investigation is something of a last resort, as the outbreak has “baffled” health officials, which suggests the only explanation is probably that it has been spreading slowly, and asymptomatically, this whole time. After all, NZ’s outbreak was never very large, and there are only 26 active cases in the whole country. Most cases detected recently involved travelers screened while entering the country. Of course, there’s always the possibility that some of them slipped through.
But somehow, despite all this, investigators have apparently traced the outbreak to a “questionable” refrigerated container owned by Americold Corp, a multinational that’s big in the shipping business. Apparently, one of the infected patients worked for the company.
Here’s more from Reuters:
The source of the outbreak has baffled health officials, who said they were confident there was no local transmission of the virus in New Zealand for 102 days.
“We are working hard to put together pieces of the puzzle on how this family got infected,” said Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield.
Investigations were zeroing in on the potential the virus was imported by freight. Bloomfield said surface testing was underway at an Auckland cool store where a man from the infected family worked.
“We know the virus can survive within refrigerated environments for quite some time,” Bloomfield said during a televised media conference.
The New Zealand unit of Atlanta, U.S.-based, Americold Realty Trust, a refrigerated storage specialist with operations in the United States, Canada, Argentina and Australia as well as New Zealand, identified itself as the owner of the cool store.
Americold NZ Managing Director Richard Winnall told the NZ Herald newspaper the infected man had been on sick leave for several days and all employees had been sent home for tests.
At noon on Wednesday, New Zealand began a three-day period of alert level 2, with Auckland at the higher Level 3. The country has been at Level 1 since June 9, which had mostly allowed life to return to normal.
Under Level 3 restrictions, most businesses and schools in Auckland are closed, and bars and restaurants may only offer takeout. Interestingly, despite the fact that COVID-19 is almost non-existent in New Zealand, Ardern on Wednesday delayed a critical step that should have kicked off New Zealand’s campaign season ahead of a Sept. 19 general election. She suspended the dissolution of Parliament, which usually marks the start of campaigning. A decision on whether she plans to actually delay the vote will arrive before Monday, she said.
To sum up: New Zealand is potentially scape-goating an American company for “reintroducing” the virus in Auckland, while the PM orders extremely harsh lockdowns – almost certainly overkill while many kiwis are only just getting back on their feet financially – and plans to delay an upcoming election.
Residents of Auckland, home to around 1.7 million people, were given just hours to prepare for the return to level 3 restrictions on Wednesday, requiring people to stay at home unless for essential trips.
“Going hard, going early with lockdown is still the best response,” Ardern said. “Our response to the virus so far has worked … we know how to beat this.”
The rest of the country was placed back into slightly looser level 2 restrictions. The restrictions will initially remain in place until Friday.
Police set up roadblocks to discourage a mass exodus from Auckland, while supermarkets rationed the sale of some staple products amid a rush to the shelves. Long queues formed at COVID-19 testing centres in the city.
Ardern said her cabinet will decide on Friday on the next steps with regards to restrictions.
Now, imagine if Trump did all that.