New Zealand has gone back into lockdown after a single suspected Delta case in the community.
A 58-year-old-man tested positive for COVID-19 with no immediate evidence that he’d traveled abroad. Due to this, PM Jacinda Arden said New Zealand needed to go “hard and early” to stop the Delta variant from spreading. Arden said Auckland and Coromandel would go into a full lockdown for seven days and the remainder of the country for three days while health experts tried to find the source of the infection.
National figures indicate that all of New Zealand’s cases since February have been detected at its border, rather than in the community. The country, of nearly 5 million people, has recorded just 26 COVID-19 deaths since the start of the pandemic, and has favored strict lockdowns. Arden said in a briefing on Tuesday that Delta, which had caused all but one of New Zealand’s COVID-19 infections since late June, was a “game changer.”
“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 go on top of it. We only get one chance,” she said. Arden said that the decision was made on the basis it was “better to start high and go down levels” of lockdown. “We’ve seen the dire consequences of taking too long to act in other countries,” she said.
From midnight on Tuesday, New Zealanders can only leave the house for exercise, supermarket shopping, essential medical care including pharmacy visits, and for getting a test, Arden said. They must wear a mask. This is New Zealand’s second “Level 4” lockdown, the nation’s strictest level.
Arden said that it would last three days for most of the country except Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, where the man lived, and the Coromandel, where the man traveled to over the weekend. New Zealand’s vaccine rollout will also go on hold for 48 hours. New Zealand has fully-vaccinated 18.6% of its population, according to Johns Hopkins University. The world average is 23.6%.