New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced a nationwide lockdown after the country confirmed one coronavirus case — the first locally transmitted Covid-19 case in the community since February.
Ardern told a press conference Tuesday authorities were assuming it was the contagious Delta variant, although genome sequencing is still underway.
An unvaccinated 58-year-old man in the country’s largest city Auckland tested positive for the virus. The man had traveled to other parts of the country, and had obvious link to the border, Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said Tuesday.
New Zealand 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 level four lockdown, everyone must stay home and businesses are closed aside for essential services such as supermarkets and pharmacies.
New Zealand was last under its most serious lockdown level a year ago, Ardern said.
Auckland and the Coromandel Peninsula — an area of the country’s North Island where the patient traveled — are likely to be under a level four lockdown for a week.
Neighboring Australia, which was also previously praised for its handling of the virus, has been battling its own Delta outbreak for the last few weeks. More than half of Australia’s population are in lockdown — and the country’s most populous city Sydney has been in lockdown since June.