New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the country's lockdown after a single case of the coronavirus infection was reported in the region, six months after observing its last case.
The reported infection caused the country to go into a three-day, nationwide lockdown. The largest city in the country, Auckland, was where the case was discovered and was placed under a seven-day lockdown.
New Coronavirus Cases
The nation's prime minister ordered the harshest lockdown the country has seen in a year, arguing that the case was more the more infectious Delta variant. The official said test results for the infection were expected to be released overnight. Ardern also urged residents to avoid unnecessary travel to prevent the further spread of the disease.
Citing the country's success in fighting against the pandemic last year, Ardern argued that the country of nearly five million people should band together once more to prevent the infection from affecting more people in the region, the Washington Post reported.
The single case of coronavirus is a setback for the country that has had a major victory against the pandemic last year. Other nations have lauded New Zealand as a superstar as it has only recorded 26 deaths related to the disease.
Residents became absent across city streets on Wednesday after the announcement of the lockdown. Ardern also revealed that since the initial infection, five more have already been recorded. She said that test results showed it was indeed the Delta variant. One of the new cases was reportedly a vaccinated Auckland Hospital nurse.
In a video posted on Facebook, Ardern said in a statement that the country's response to the pandemic has always been hard and quick. She argued it was a much better strategy than ending up in prolonged lockdowns due to a massive spread of recorded cases.
Strict Lockdown Protocols
Officials have placed the country in level 4 lockdown, the highest alert level, for the three days of shutdown, which is seven days for Auckland, where the initial case was reported. Only a few residents in Wellington, the country's capital, were seen strutting in the streets, a far cry from the area's usual hustle and bustle, Reuters reported.
Some people have begun panic buying supplies after the lockdown was announced by Ardern on Tuesday. Residents started stocking up on essentials, flooding supermarkets despite the government assuring them that there will be no shortage of supplies.
New Zealand's economy has rapidly regained its former glory as the nation spent the last half a year without a single local transmission of the coronavirus infection. However, slow vaccine rollout left many residents vulnerable to another outbreak, more particularly, the Delta variant.
The recent reports of new infections bring concerns over the potential new outbreak of COVID-19 cases in the country. People have been urged to wear face masks when going out in public and to avoid unnecessary travel. Only necessities, such as groceries, gasoline stations, and health products can stay open amid the strict lockdown nationwide, Yahoo reported.