New Zealand officials warned of a possible new outbreak after 17 new cases of the coronavirus were reported in the country’s largest city.

On Tuesday, the country reported that four members of a family in Auckland had been infected with the virus. The news came as a shock for many citizens as New Zealand had been COVID-19-free for nearly three months before reports of the new cases emerged.

Two days after the report, 16 new cases were reported in the same city. Another citizen who had just arrived from overseas was also put in quarantine after testing positive for the coronavirus.

In a statement, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern imposed new lockdown restrictions and assured citizens that the crisis was already being dealt with. “We can see the seriousness of the situation we are in,” said Ardern. “It’s being dealt with in an urgent but calm and methodical way,” she added.  

Aside from re-imposing tight movement restrictions in Auckland, Ardern also ordered new social distancing measures across the rest of the country. The move echoed her widely lauded early response to the pandemic when it first hit the country in April.

According to Ardern, New Zealand’s previous experience in overcoming the pandemic only showed that things get worse before they get better. She said more cases of the coronavirus will come out in the coming days but reassured her people that everything is under control.

“Once again, we are reminded of how tricky this virus is and how easily it can spread,” she said. “Going hard and early is still the best course of action.”

Officials are now conducting contact tracing to identify the patient zero of the new coronavirus outbreak in New Zealand. “We are working flat out to do the contact-tracing we need to do and trace back to find out what the source of this infection is,” officials said.  

Meanwhile, the origin of the latest cases has raised questions about how the virus re-entered the country. On Thursday, officials reported that three more people at the storage facility where one of the members of the infected family in Auckland worked had also tested positive for the virus. It raised the possibility that the new coronavirus had re-entered the country via freight.  

Jacinda Ardern Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks with media at a COVID-19 briefing on August 13, 2020 in Wellington, New Zealand. COVID-19 restrictions have been reintroduced across New Zealand after four new COVID-19 cases were diagnosed in Auckland. Photo by Mark Tantrum/Getty Images