New Zealand back in lockdown - after single Covid case found
"We've seen the dire consequences of taking too long to act in other countries."
New Zealand is due to go back in lockdown on Tuesday after a person in Auckland tested positive for Covid-19.
It is assumed that the case will be the more contagious Delta variant, although the government is waiting on the genetic sequencing results.
As the person has no link to travel, the government has immediately locked down in order to quickly establish the origin of the case and how it made its way into the community.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that the country would return to the highest level of lockdown - level 4 - from 11.59pm.
"We have a positive case of Covid-19 in the community. We will not be in a position to identify if this is a case of the Delta variant of Covid-19 until genome sequencing is returned tomorrow," she said.
Level 4 of lockdown is intended to reduce contact between people to essential reasons only. People will be expected to remain in their household bubbles and leave their homes only for exercise and essential trips.
Schools will be closed and coronavirus vaccinations will be suspended for 48 hours.
Ardern added that every case that the country has had in managed isolation quarantine recently has been the Delta variant.
She continued: "While we cannot confirm it yet, we need to assume our case will be too, and that has shaped all of the decisions we have made this afternoon.
"I want to assure New Zealand that we have planned for this eventuality and that we will now be putting in place that plan to contain and stamp out Covid-19 once again.
"Going hard and early has worked for us before. 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."
The chief executive of the ministry of health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield confirmed that the crucial aspect of this case was that there is "no obvious link between this case and the border."
He continued: "This case was identified in Auckland, but it is a national issue. Because we cannot link the case to the border at this point it is possible there are other cases around in Auckland and other possible chains of transmission.
"People from around the country will have traveled to Auckland and back to other parts of New Zealand.
"Therefore, whilst it’s a case identified in Auckland it requires us all to be part of the response. Hard work from everyone across the country will help us get on top of this outbreak."
The lockdown will initially last for three days, apart from in Auckland and the Coromandel peninsula where the government anticipates it will last for seven.
Explaining the decision to introduce a hard lockdown after just one case, Ardern said: "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 neighbours.
"Just as we successfully stayed home and saved lives last year, I’m asking the team of five million to unite once more to defeat what is likely to be this more dangerous and transmissible variant of the virus."
Whilst locking down over a single case may seem extreme, the strategy has worked well for New Zealand so far.
Throughout the entire pandemic, the country of five million people has reported just 2,500 cases of Covid and 26 deaths from the virus.