New Zealand lockdown after 1 Covid-19 case appears in Auckland

Short and hard approach, rather than light and long.

Belmont Lay | August 18, 2021, 04:21 AM

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has put her country into a three-day lockdown after the first Covid-19 community case since February 2021 was discovered.

The snap lockdown will begin at midnight on Aug. 18, the first nationwide lockdown since the initial pandemic response over a year ago.

Highly infectious Delta variant

Authorities are rushing to identify the source of a single infection in largest city, Auckland, as New Zealand now at the so-called Alert Level 4.

Ardern made the announcement at a news conference on Tuesday in Wellington.

She said the case is assumed to be the highly infectious delta variant, even as genome sequencing has yet to be completed.

“Delta has been a game-changer, we’re responding to that,” Ardern said.

“The best thing we can do to get out of this as quickly as we can is to go hard.”

All schools, public venues and most businesses must close for this period of time.

Wearing of face mask in public has been made compulsory.

Only shops providing essential services such as groceries, gasoline and health products can stay open.

Case: Man in his 50s

The case is an unvaccinated man in his 50s from Auckland.

He is deemed to have been infectious since Aug. 12.

He and his fully vaccinated wife visited a crowded pub on Saturday night to watch an All Blacks rugby game in the nearby Coromandel region over the weekend.

Because of those movements and the probability of it being the delta variant, Auckland and the Coromandel region have been placed into lockdown for seven days as part of an immediate nationwide response.

“Going hard and early has worked for us before,” Ardern said.

“We want to be short and hard, rather than light and long.”

New Zealand vaccine rollout slow

New Zealand has been successful in keeping Covid-19 out the past few months.

But its Achilles' heel is a slow vaccine rollout that has left it vulnerable to another outbreak, especially since the delta strain is challenging virus containment efforts around the world.

Ardern cited Australia’s experience with delta as a reason for swift nationwide action.

Australia’s outbreak continues to spread despite more than half the nation’s 26 million people being placed into lockdown.

New South Wales state recorded 452 new cases on Aug. 18 after a record of 478 the previous day, with the majority of those infections detected in Sydney.

Australia’s most-populous city has been in lockdown for more than seven weeks, as a result of the virus already being seeded in the community before the local government of New South Wales acted to contain it.

Top photo via Jacinda Ardern Facebook