Coronavirus: World reacts to New Zealand's cases of community transmission

New Zealand's 102-day streak without a case of community transmission has come to an end, and the world media are out in force.

Hailed mere days ago for the milestone 100-day achievement of a COVID-free community, New Zealand is now under an international microscope as the Government scrambles to trace and identify potential new infections connected to the four South Auckland cases. 

As of midday on Wednesday, Auckland will be placed back under alert level 3 restrictions until midnight on Friday. The rest of the nation will follow alert level 2 protocol as a precautionary measure.

Following Tuesday's impromptu press conference announcing the reemergence of COVID-19 in the community, global outlets have rushed to report on the sudden end to New Zealand's "remarkable run" - some with sympathy, others with scorn. 

'A so-called elimination strategy is a major folly'

In a tweet on Wednesday morning (NZ time), The Sun's executive editor, New Zealander Dan Wootton, said it's "becoming increasingly clear that the UK's containment strategy is the most sensible for beating coronavirus" in light of New Zealand's four new cases of community transmission. 

"It saddens me to think my beautiful homeland of New Zealand, with no immunity amongst its people, may have to cut itself off from the world," Wootton tweeted, alongside a link to his latest article for The Sun.

Wootton's piece argues that a containment strategy is more effective than an elimination approach, claiming the four new cases are "further proof that a so-called elimination strategy of this dreadful virus is a major folly".

"The issue with a country like my homeland of New Zealand focussed on elimination is there is now virtually no immunity at all - and, as we know, coronavirus doesn’t respect traditional borders," he wrote.

"While I wish Jacinda Ardern's government the best, my fear is that the New Zealand approach will see my wonderful birthplace cut off from the rest of the world for months and years to come to protect itself against an invisible enemy."

'New Zealand's ongoing self-siege not a COVID-19 success story'

One journalist based in Washington DC noted that New Zealand is destined for an "ongoing self-siege" by placing the country under stringent lockdown protocols - in response to just four new cases.

Jordan Schachtel claimed the country could face years of rolling lockdowns if every new case detected necessitates "a complete lockdown and shutdown of New Zealand's economy". 

"The virus would eventually infiltrate the country no matter what," he tweeted.

"Today, NZ put half of its population on lockdown over four, yes, four, new cases."

'New Zealand's remarkable COVID-19 run is over'

Ardern has "plunged" New Zealand - "the envy of the world" - back into lockdown, the Daily Mail Australia said in a report following Tuesday's announcement. 

In recognition of New Zealand's 100-day streak without a case of community transmission, the Daily Mail published an in-depth outline of the Government's internationally-lauded COVID-19 response, highlighting the three key measures that had New Zealand "reaping the rewards" of a stringent lockdown. 

Now, the outlet has been quick to declare the country's "remarkable run" as "over", with Auckland "plunging" back up the alert levels in response to the detection of four cases acquired locally from an unknown source. 

It also noted the economic impacts of the initial lockdown in March, claiming the preliminary three days under alert levels 2 and 3 could "wreak havoc" on our "already struggling economy".

'Necessary to go hard and go early'

BBC News has echoed Ardern's "go hard and go early" sentiment in its article on Tuesday night (local time), noting the three-day lockdown was "swiftly imposed" following the detection of the four South Auckland cases.

"A three-day lockdown was swiftly imposed in Auckland after the cases were confirmed," said the outlet. "The restrictions will come into effect on Wednesday, as authorities scramble to trace contacts of the family."

It noted that New Zealand has "fared better" than other countries embroiled in the pandemic, as the virus continues to ravage the United States, Brazil and India with more than five million, three million and two million recorded cases respectively.

Comparatively, New Zealand had just 1220 confirmed cases and 22 active cases - all of which were detected in managed isolation - as of Tuesday.

The BBC acknowledged New Zealand as "one of the few countries to reach such a milestone" of more than 102 days without evidence of community transmission. 

"An early lockdown, tough border restrictions, effective health messaging and an aggressive test-and-trace programme have all been credited with virtually eliminating the virus in the country. 

"Announcing the lockdown... Ardern said it was necessary to go hard and go early to stamp out the virus."