A nationwide lockdown has been announced by New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, after the country confirmed a single case of COVID-19, the first locally transmitted case discovered on the island nation since February 28, 2021.
Authorities are assuming the case is of the highly contagious Delta variant.
An unvaccinated 58-year-old man in New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland, tested positive for the virus after travelling to other parts of the country and who is said to have obvious links to the country’s borders, the Director General of Health, Ashley Bloomfeild, said Tuesday.
All of New Zealand will be under the strictest lockdown level for the next three days starting at 11:59 pm Tuesday, local time.
The level four lockdown requires that everyone must stay home and all businesses are closed with exceptions for essential services such as supermarkets and pharmacies.
It’s been over a year since New Zealand has imposed any type of lockdown measure.
Areas where the infected man traveled in the Country’s North Island are expected to be locked down for upwards of 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.” Arden told reporters.
New Zealand has been largely praised for its handling of the pandemic which closed off its borders to almost all foreign nationals and imposed strict state-run quarantines on incoming travelers.
Early in August, New Zealand announced plans to begin reopening its borders to vaccinated travelers from low risk areas beginning in early 2022, signalling a relaxation of its strict pandemic border controls.
To date, New Zealand has registered a total of 2,927 cases of the novel coronavirus with 26 deaths and over 2.5 million vaccine doses administered.