New Zealand records four new COVID-19 cases and plunges back into lockdown

New Zealand's remarkable COVID-19 run is over, with the country plunging back into lockdown after four members of the same family tested positive on Tuesday. 

The nation has been the envy of the world for its handling of the COVID-19 crisis, with Monday marking 101 days without a single community transmission case.

For three months, New Zealanders have enjoyed the return of usual freedoms after an autumn lockdown proved effective in eliminating the deadly virus. 

But Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern scheduled a last minute press conference for 9.15pm on Tuesday night and announced those freedoms would be put on hold. 

Stay-at-home orders will be implemented throughout Auckland for 72 hours from midday on Wednesday after the new cases were identified in the city.

More than 1.6million people won't be allowed to leave their homes unless for essential reasons. 

The rest of the nation will enter a level two lockdown - mandating social distancing and placing caps on gathering sizes. 

Contact tracing is now underway among multiple workplaces across New Zealand, and close contacts of the confirmed cases have been ordered to self isolate.  

The popular PM will plunge Auckland back into a stage three lockdown from Wednesday in an attempt to stem the spread of the virus as part of her 'resurgence plan'

The popular PM will plunge Auckland back into a stage three lockdown from Wednesday in an attempt to stem the spread of the virus as part of her 'resurgence plan'

Ms Ardern is concerned about the origin of the outbreak, given the family have no links to overseas travellers or managed hotel isolation. 

An Auckland man in his 50s tested positive to coronavirus twice on Tuesday, five days after he first developed symptoms, sparking fears he could have spread the virus throughout his community.

The man's partner and preschool aged child are also among the new confirmed cases.

'We have not yet been able to determine the source of these cases, there is no known link to hotel quarantine,' Ms Ardern said on Tuesday night. 

'One of the most important lessons we have learned from overseas is to go hard at this... in line with our precautionary approach, we will be asking Aucklanders to take swift lockdown'.  

Ms Ardern revealed authorities are 'expecting to see more cases' linked to the cluster. 

The new lockdown is part of the prime minister's coronavirus 'resurgence plan'.

'You are asked to stay home in your bubble unless you are an essential worker,' she said.  

More than 1.6million people won't be allowed to leave their homes unless for essential reasons as four new cases of community transmission were identified on Tuesday

More than 1.6million people won't be allowed to leave their homes unless for essential reasons as four new cases of community transmission were identified on Tuesday

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern scheduled a last minute press conference for about 9.15pm on Tuesday night as word spread of the lockdown

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern scheduled a last minute press conference for about 9.15pm on Tuesday night as word spread of the lockdown

All bars, restaurants and public services must close by midday on Wednesday, as gatherings of more than 10 are prohibited.

Schools will also close to all students other than children of essential workers. 

'If you are in Auckland, we ask that you wear a mask when accessing essential services.'

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