New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern put the nation into a three-day lockdown after discovering the first community case of COVID-19 since February. It is the country’s first nationwide lockdown after the initial pandemic surge over a year ago. Under so-called Alert Level 4, all schools, public venues, and businesses must close, and people are urged to wear a face-covering if they need to venture out. Only shops providing essential services such as health products, gasoline and groceries can stay open.
The snap lockdown began on August 18th as authorities rushed to identify the source of a single infection in the largest city, Auckland, Ardern said at a news conference Tuesday, August 17th in Wellington. While genome sequencing has yet to be completed, she said the case is assumed to be the highly infectious delta variant.
“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.”