The Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, has announced a nationwide lockdown after the country confirmed one coronavirus case, the first locally transmitted Covid-19 case since February.
At a press conference on Tuesday, Ardern said the country’s authorities were assuming that the case was the “deadly and contagious Delta variant, although genome sequencing is still underway.”
The identified victim was an unvaccinated 58-year-old man in the country’s largest city, Auckland, who tested positive for the virus, prompting the lockdown.
The man was said to have traveled to other parts of the country, and had obvious links to the border, Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield also said at a separate conference.
According to Ardern, New Zealand will be under the strictest lockdown level for the next three days starting from 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, local time.
“Under this level four lockdown, everyone must stay home and businesses are closed aside for essential services such as supermarkets and pharmacies,” she announced.
New Zealand was last under its most serious lockdown level a year ago, and this time, Auckland and the Coromandel Peninsula, an area of the country’s North Island where the patient traveled, are likely to be under the level four lockdown for a week.
“We are one of the last countries in the world to have the Delta variant in our community.
“We’re in the position to learn from experience overseas, and what actions work, and what actions don’t work.
“Delta has been called a gamechanger — and it is. It means we need to again go hard and early to stop the spread.
“We have seen what can happen elsewhere if we fail to get on top of it. We only get one chance,” Ardern said.