Schools across Auckland reopened on Monday as New Zealand's largest city emerged from lockdown, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern expressing confidence a second-wave outbreak of coronavirus was under control.
While Aucklanders were allowed out of their homes, the government limited non-school social gatherings in the city to 10 people and made masks compulsory on public transport nationwide.
The Auckland lockdown began on August 12 after four cases were detected in the city of 1.5 million, ending 102 days free of community transmission when it appeared New Zealand had beaten the virus.
The cluster of infections has since grown to 141, with four new cases of community transmission reported on Monday, making it the largest recorded in New Zealand.
The origin of the outbreak has not been found and Ardern said it was "inevitable" there would be more cases linked to the cluster.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
But even though it continues to grow, Ardern said it was safe to lift the lockdown.
"We have a plan that we know will work," a masked Ardern told reporters in Auckland.
"We just need everyone's compliance and help. If everyone sticks to the guidelines and rules, coupled together with all our public health measures, we can make this work."
Ardern, who delayed New Zealand's general election by a month to October 17 because of the outbreak, urged fellow Kiwis to "do their bit" in fighting the virus.
"It's natural that we feel tired, the whole world is," she said.
"But relative to others we're doing really well. We'll be able to get back in front of the virus if we follow the guidelines."Follow our full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic here.