New Zealand is entering a three-day nationwide lockdown after reporting its first coronavirus case in six months, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Tuesday.
The rapid shutdown, which begins at 11:59pm local time, was triggered by the discovery of an infection in Auckland, New Zealand’s most populous city, which is believed to be the first case of the more contagious Delta variant outside. the strict quarantine system. Auckland and the nearby Coromandel Peninsula, which the infected person recently visited, will be closed for an extended period of seven days.
The lockdown rules, the strictest in New Zealand, require residents to stay at home and all schools, public facilities and non-essential businesses are closed.
Ahead of Ms Ardern’s announcement, New Zealanders in scenes reminiscent of the earliest days of the pandemic looted supermarkets and left toilet paper aisles empty. Roads outside Auckland were congested as people fled the city for holiday homes in other parts of the country.
“I want to assure New Zealand that we have planned this and that we will now implement that plan to once again contain and eradicate Covid-19,” Ms Ardern said at a news conference.
“Going hard and early has worked for us before,” she added.
It is not yet known how the person, who was not vaccinated and has no link to the country’s quarantine facilities at the border, contracted the virus.
Ms Ardern warned that if New Zealand did not act quickly, it could find itself in the same situation as the Australian state of New South Wales, which reports hundreds of new cases every day, more than at any other time during the pandemic. A lockdown now in its eighth week in Sydney, where the Delta-induced outbreak began, was extended to the entire state on Saturday.
“We are one of the last countries in the world to have the Delta variant in our community,” said Ms. Ardern. “This gives us the opportunity to learn from others.”
The New Zealand government had previously indicated it would respond to all cases of the Delta variant in the community with strict lockdowns, in line with the country’s Covid zero strategy. New Zealand has had one of the fewest virus cases in the world, with a total of 2,927 cases and 26 deaths, according to a NewsMadura database.
Fears of a Delta outbreak in New Zealand have been heightened due to the country’s relatively low vaccination coverage. According to a NewsMadura database, 29 percent of the New Zealand population has received at least one dose of a vaccine and 17 percent have been fully vaccinated.
The campaign is expected to accelerate in the final months of this year, with officials saying last week that all residents over 16 will be able to make appointments from September 1.