After discovering a single case of the Wuhan coronavirus, the government of New Zealand has placed the entire country into a strict three-day lockdown.
The lockdown was announced on Tuesday by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. An unidentified 58-year-old man tested positive for the virus in the country’s largest city, Auckland, and officials fear that he may have contracted the more contagious Delta variant.
As a result, the entire country went into a strict, three-day lockdown just before midnight on Tuesday. Auckland and the nearby Coromandel Peninsula, which the COVID-positive man recently visited, will be locked down for seven days as health officials try to determine the origin of his infection.
The positive test marks New Zealand’s first confirmed Wuhan coronavirus case in nearly six months. In announcing the lockdown, Ardern emphasized the need to “get on top of” the outbreak and employed rhetoric similar to the beginning of the pandemic.
“While we know that Delta is a more dangerous enemy to combat, the same actions that overcame the virus last year can be applied to beat it again,” Ardern said.
In accordance with Wuhan coronavirus guidelines from New Zealand’s government, the lockdown is considered an “Alert Level 4,” which has not been seen since the virus’ initial outbreak in the spring of 2020. Under Alert Level 4, citizens are only permitted to leave their homes for “essential personal movement.”
The news of a return to Alert Level 4 prompted overcrowding at grocery stores across the country. Additionally, the value of the New Zealand dollar dropped 0.7 percent upon Ardern’s announcement.
Despite its relative success in containing Wuhan coronavirus outbreaks, New Zealand’s vaccine rollout has been lackluster. At the time of writing, approximately 32 percent of Kiwis have received a dose of the vaccine, while only 18 percent are fully vaccinated.
The strict lockdown measures will further halt New Zealand’s vaccination effort, as all of the country’s vaccine clinics will be closed on Wednesday and Thursday, according to the government website.