WELLINGTON (Reuters) – The mayor of New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland, said on Monday that its residents should be prioritized for getting the vaccine, after which it was thrown into its fourth lockdown over the weekend that cost millions of dollars a day.
The seven-day lockdown of a population of nearly 2 million was triggered by the case of a person who had been infected for a week but was not in isolation.
The lockdown led to several major sporting and cultural events being canceled or postponed in Auckland.
It also caused traffic chaos over the weekend, with travelers stuck at city checkpoints for up to 10 hours trying to reach their homes in Auckland.
Auckland is losing about 200 jobs and more than NZ $ 30 million ($ 21.7 million) per day under the level 3 cap, ”said Mayor Phil Goff in a statement.
“We need vaccine rollouts to be prioritized in Auckland to help avoid future closures, protect jobs and income, and ensure Auckland can play its role in supporting the national economic recovery,” said Goff.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday that the latest COVID-19 cases had made “many mistakes” including coming into contact with infected families. The person is said to have visited public places even after taking a COVID test.
“It has devastating consequences, no doubt about it,” Ardern told Newshub’s “The AM Show.”
But it is up to the police to decide if any action will be taken against the person, he said.
“People do stupid things but we will not go through this if people insult them until they don’t tell the truth,” he added.
The lockdown, with a Level 3 limitation, allows people to leave the house only for essential shopping and essential work. Public areas will remain closed.
New Zealand, one of the developed countries most successful in controlling the spread of the pandemic, has seen more than 2,000 coronavirus cases and 26 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
Reporting by Praveen Menon; Edited by Peter Cooney