Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, Ardern unveiled that kiwis will be subject to a ‘level four’ lockdown from 11:59pm local time (11:59am GMT) following the reporting of a single coronavirus infection in Auckland.
“It is better to start high and go down levels rather than start too low, not contain the virus and see it move quickly,” the prime minister said, drawing on the “dire consequences” other countries and nearby Australia have experienced by not stamping out the virus in the very early stages.
The countrywide shutdown is due to last three days, while in Auckland and Coromandel Peninsula the lockdown will last a week. Under ‘alert level four’ restrictions – New Zealand’s tightest measures – kiwis are only able to leave their homes for pharmacies, groceries, Covid testing, medical care and for exercise in the neighborhood.
It is yet to be determined whether the Delta variant is responsible for New Zealand’s singular Covid case.
The isolated incident is the country’s first locally transmitted infection since February 28, breaking its six-month run without a single community case.
The prime minister has championed a policy of early response lockdowns and strict border closures to stop infections from seeping into the nation. Last week, Ardern announced that New Zealand will reopen its borders in early 2022 once the majority of the population is vaccinated.
Since the coronavirus outbreak in early 2020, the nation of some 5 million has weathered the pandemic relatively unscathed in comparison to other countries, having recorded just over 2,500 cases and 26 deaths.
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