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New Zealand in lockdown due to first COVID case in six months


New Zealand

New Zealand will go into a hard lockdown within hours as it deals with its first community case of COVID-19 in almost six months.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said a case was detected in Auckland on Tuesday.

As a result, the entire country would be placed in a hard lockdown at 11.59 GMT for at least three days meaning all schools and non-essential businesses must close.

People were only able to leave their homes to visit the supermarket for solo exercise, or for medical care.

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“We have seen the dire consequences of taking too long to act.’’

Ardern said genome sequencing of the case was underway, and there was no known link to the border as yet.

“Every case in managed isolation and quarantine recently has been the Delta variant and Delta is surging around the world. While we can’t confirm it yet, we need to assume our case will be too.’’

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Ardern said it was a situation nobody wanted to be in.

“Going hard and early has worked for us before. We know that Delta is a more dangerous enemy to combat, the same actions we applied in 2020 can work again.’’

The last case in the community was reported on Feb. 28, since then, all COVID cases in New Zealand have been caught at the border.

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“A hard and early response is the best tool to stamp out any potential spread and everyone in New Zealand is asked to stay calm, be kind and play their parts while we gather more information on the potential case,’ the Ministry of Health said in a statement.

New Zealand, with a population of some five million people, recorded a total of 2,570 cases and 26 deaths during the pandemic.