COVID-19: New Zealand imposes harshest lockdown in the world

New Zealand has just entered a nationwide Level Four lockdown to contain the spread of the first locally acquired COVID case since February.

After a single mystery COVID case was found in Auckland yesterday, 17 August, Jacinda Ardern has decided to impose a snap lockdown that will see the entire country under strict restrictions.

First locally-acquired case since February

This is the first time since February that a locally acquired case has been detected in New Zealand which has since prompted a nation-wide Level Four lockdown for the next three days. In Auckland and the Coromandel Peninsula however, the restrictions will be extended for at least a full week.

The lockdown was a result of a 58-year-old man from Auckland who had yet to receive the vaccine. The unnamed man tested positive on Tuesday and is believed to have been infectious for at least the last five days. Over the course of his infection, he travelled with his wife to Coromandel —east of the North Island.

At the moment, doctors believe he has been infected with the highly-contagious Delta variant but confirmation will only be available until his genome testing results come back later today. Many have now been criticising New Zealand's sluggish vaccine rollout as only 17% of the entire population has been fully shielded—leaving the country particularly at risk of a devastating new outbreak.

Panic buying in full display

Despite the abrupt and strict measures being taken to contain the spread of the virus, Ardern has urged the country not to panic buy but very few have followed her recommendations. In videos posted on social media, thousands can be seen emptying supermarkets and queuing lengthy lines to stock up on household essentials. Supermarkets giant Pak N Save issued a statement saying:

We have plenty of food and groceries for everyone, let’s work together and shop normal we can make sure there’s enough for everyone.

Before adding:

In times of uncertainty a little kindness goes a long way. Please be kind to fellow shoppers and to our store, supply chain and call centre teams, who are working around the clock to keep shelves stocked and your needs met. They’re our heroes.
New Covid-19 cases are finally dropping around the world! New Covid-19 cases are finally dropping around the world!