New Zealand goes on lockdown due to suspected Delta case
WELLINGTON, New Zealand - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced this week that as of Tuesday night, New Zealand will be on lockdown at its highest level after an unvaccinated 58-year-old man from Auckland tested positive for COVID-19, CNN reports.
Ardern confirmed Tuesday that health experts are assuming the man has the contagious Delta variant, although genome sequencing results are still pending.
New Zealand's Director General of Health, Ashley Bloomfield, also said Tuesday that the man had traveled to other parts of the country and had obvious link to the border.
As a result of this case, the entire nation will be under the strictest level lockdown level for the next three days starting from 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, local time, Ardern said.
Under this level of lockdown, all residents must stay home and businesses will remain closed with the exception of essential services such as supermarkets and pharmacies.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern addressed the press at Parliament Tuesday, saying, "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."
In 2020, New Zealand's response to the COVID-19 health crisis was often used as an example of the proper way to handle such a situation. The nation took swift action in closing borders to almost all foreign nationals and imposing strict state-run quarantines on incoming travelers.
Prior to Tuesday's announcement, life in the country had largely returned to normal.
According to CNN, New Zealand has reported fewer than 3,000 Covid-19 cases and 26 deaths in a population of about 5 million.