New Zealand authorities announced a nationwide lockdown on Tuesday after its largest city, Auckland, reported the country’s first local Covid-19 case in nearly six months, posing a threat to the country’s successful ‘zero-Covid’ strategy that has so far managed to keep the more infectious delta variant of the virus at bay.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that Auckland and the town of Coromandel will enter a seven-day lockdown while the rest of the country will be locked for the next three days.
The new case has triggered ‘Alert Level 4’—the highest pandemic alert level across the country, which means a stringent stay-at-home order is put in place with all physical contact being limited to household members.
While the single case has not been confirmed as a delta variant case, Ardern said the authorities are working under the presumption that it has been caused by the highly infectious variant.
The 58-year-old man who tested positive isn’t vaccinated and over the weekend he and his fully vaccinated wife traveled to the small town of Coromandel—located on the western side of New Zealand’s North Island.
Authorities said they have identified 23 locations of interest—10 in Auckland and 13 in Coromandel—visited by the man while he was infectious.
The source of the man’s infection is yet to be identified as he has no obvious link to any cases reported at New Zealand’s borders, raising fears that there may be other undetected cases spreading in the community.