New Zealand announced on Tuesday that it would enter a sudden lockdown after an Auckland man tested positive for COVID-19, marking the first case within the country in six months.
The country entered a national level 4 lockdown at 11:59 pm New Zealand time on Tuesday. The nationwide lockdown will be for three days, while Auckland and the Coromandel Peninsula will be in lockdown for seven days due to the risk of exposure from the man's travels.
"We have made decisions on the basis that it is better to start high and go down levels rather than start too low, not contain the virus, and see it move quickly. We've seen the dire consequences of taking too long to act in other countries, not least our neighbors," said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern during a press conference Tuesday.
"Just as we successfully stayed home and saved lives last year, I'm asking the team of 5 million to unite once more to defeat what is likely to be this more dangerous and transmissible variant of the virus," she continued.
Ardern said that officials are working under the assumption that the man contracted the Delta variant of the virus, which is spreading rapidly around the world. Whole-genome sequencing results have yet to be returned to determine whether or not the case is the Delta variant for sure.
The 58-year-old man became symptomatic on Saturday, with the infection period considered to have begun on Thursday.
"Importantly, and this has been fundamental to our advice to the Government, at this point, there is no obvious link between this case and the border," said Ardern.
The man is currently self-isolating at home with his wife, who tested negative for the virus and is fully vaccinated. The man had yet to make his vaccination appointment due to troubles with the booking website.
The couple reportedly travelled from Auckland to Coromandel township, where they stayed the weekend.
The government has identified 23 locations of interest where the man had travelled to and infected others.
Those that were in those 23 areas at the specific time frames are being urged to self-isolate immediately.
While New Zealand has successfully kept the virus out of the country with its tightly controlled international border, many New Zealanders have yet to get vaccinated.
According to data from the New Zealand government, around 33 percent of the country's inhabitants have received their first dose of the vaccine, and just 19 percent have been fully vaccinated.
Meanwhile, in neighboring Australia, many areas across the country have entered new lockdowns due to rising cases.
In a recent press conference, the premier of Victoria, Dan Andrews, announced that those in the Australian state of Victoria would not be able to remove their masks outdoors to drink alcohol as its lockdown continues.
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