Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s Prime Minister, has declared a nationwide lockdown following the confirmation of one case of coronavirus in New Zealand — the first Covid-19 locally transmitted case since February.
Ardern said Tuesday that authorities believed it to be the contagious Delta variant. However, genome sequencing is still ongoing.
Unvaccinated, 58-year old man from Auckland, the country’s biggest city, tested positive for the virus. According to Ashley Bloomfield, Director General of Health, the man had been to other parts of the nation and was in direct contact with the border.
Ardern stated that New Zealand will be subject to the highest level of lockdown for the next three consecutive days, starting Tuesday at 11:59 p.m. local time. Everyone must remain home during level four lockdown. Businesses are also closed for essential services like pharmacies and supermarkets.
Ardern stated that New Zealand was the last to be under severe lockdown a year ago.
For a week, Auckland and the Coromandel Peninsula, an area of the country’s North Island where the patient travelled, will likely be in a level 4 lockdown.
Ardern stated that “We are the last country in the world to have the Delta version in our community.” “We have the opportunity to learn from overseas experience, and which actions work and which don’t.
“Delta was called a gamechanger. This means that we must again work hard and fast to stop its spread. We’ve seen the consequences of not getting on top of this. “We only have one chance.”
New Zealand’s handling of the virus has been highly praised. It closed its borders to nearly all foreign nationals as soon as possible and imposed strict quarantines for all incoming travelers.
This has allowed it to avoid the deadly outbreaks in other countries. Prior to Tuesday’s announcement however, most people had returned to their normal lives. New Zealand has reported fewer that 3,000 Covid-19 deaths and only 26 cases in its population of approximately 5 million.
New Zealand is slow to immunize. According to data collated, New Zealand has fully immunized less than 20% of its population.
Australia’s neighbor, previously praised for its handling, is currently fighting its own Delta virus outbreak. More than half of Australia’s citizens are currently in lockdown, and Sydney, the largest city in Australia has been in lockdown for more than a month.
Earlier this month, New Zealand announced plans to begin reopening its doors to vaccinated travelers from low risk countries from early 2022, signaling a tentative relaxation of strict pandemic border controls.