WELLINGTON, Aug. 17 (Reuters) – New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern put the nation under tight control on Tuesday after a new case of the coronavirus was reported in her largest city of Auckland, the country’s first in six month.
All of New Zealand will be stranded for three days from Wednesday while Auckland and Coromandel, a coastal city in which the infected person had also spent time, will be stranded for seven days.
Imposing its strictest Level 4 lockdown rules, schools, offices and all businesses will be closed and only essential services will be operational.
“The best thing we can do to get out of this as quickly as possible is to go strong,” Ardern said at a press conference.
“We made the decision on the basis that it is better to start high and go down the levels rather than going down, not containing the virus and seeing it evolve quickly,” she said.
Ardern said authorities assumed the new case was a Delta variant infection although this has not been confirmed. There may be other cases, she said.
The last reported community case of COVID-19 in New Zealand was in February.
New Zealand has followed a resolute and early strategy that has helped it virtually eliminate COVID-19 nationally, allowing people to live without restrictions despite its international borders remaining largely closed.
The country has reported around 2,500 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 26 related deaths.
The New Zealand dollar fell on the announcement, falling 1.5% to $ 0.6926 after the lockdown was announced.
The news came a day before the Reserve Bank of New Zealand became the first central bank among developed countries to raise interest rates since the pandemic as the economy boomed. Read more
Reporting by Praveen Menon; Editing by Stephen Coates and Edwina Gibbs
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