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New Zealand on lockdown after positive case

August 17th, 2021
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks to media during a press conference at Parliament on August 17, 2021.
(Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

New Zealand has announced it’s locking down the entire country after recording one new COVID-19 case.

The new case, an unvaccinated 58 year old in the country’s largest city, Auckland, is the first locally transmitted case since February.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told a press conference Tuesday that while genome sequencing is still underway, authorities were assuming it was the contagious Delta variant.

New Zealand will be under the strictest level lockdown level for the next three days, starting from 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, local time.

Under level four lockdown, everyone must stay home and businesses are closed aside for essential services such as supermarkets and pharmacies.

New Zealand has been praised for its handling of the virus, which saw it close borders to almost all foreign nationals early, and impose strict state-run quarantines on incoming travellers.

This approach has seen it avoid the devastating outbreaks seen in other countries and, prior to Tuesday’s announcement, life in the country had largely returned to normal.

New Zealand has reported fewer than 3,000 COVID-19 cases and only 26 deaths in a population of about 5 million.

The country has also been slow to vaccinate, with only about 20% of its population fully immunized.

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