Four new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the country including one Auckland hospital worker, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told Radio New Zealand on Wednesday.
That takes the total number of confirmed cases in the country to five. Ardern said all cases have now been confirmed to be infected with the Delta variant.
Ardern put New Zealand under strict lockdown on Tuesday after the country’s first coronavirus case in six months was reported in the largest city of Auckland.
Ardern’s “go hard, go early” strategy has helped curb COVID-19 but her announcement left people struggling to stack up essentials, businesses shutting abruptly and schools and offices making last-minute changes to go online.
All New Zealand will be in the toughest, level-four lockdown for at least three days from Wednesday. Auckland and Coromandel, a coastal town where the infected person also spent time, will be in lockdown for seven days.
“The best thing we can do to get out of this as quickly as we can is to go hard,” Ardern told a news conference.
“We have made the decision on the basis that it is better to start high and go down levels rather than to go low, not contain the virus and see it move quickly.”
Schools, offices and businesses will close and only essential services will be operational.
Shoppers crowded supermarkets as news of the new case and the imminent lockdown spread.
Ardern said authorities were assuming the patient, a 58-year-old man from Auckland who was not identified, had contracted the highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 although genome sequencing was yet to be completed.
There may also be other cases, she said.
The Auckland Regional Public Health unit is interviewing the patient for contact-tracing purposes and COVID-19 vaccinations are to be suspended for at least 48 hours.