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New Zealand returns to lockdown after first COVID-19 case in six months

By Zarrin Ahmed
New Zealand returns to lockdown after first COVID-19 case in six months
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the new lockdown orders are necessary after the country saw its first new case in six months.  File Photo by Bianca de Marchi/EPA-EFE

Aug. 17 (UPI) -- Most of New Zealand is going under a new COVID-19 lockdown for three days and two locations, including Auckland, will be under the restriction for a week after health officials found the first local transmission in six months.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the lockdown Tuesday and cautioned that the new measure is necessary.

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For the next three days in most locations, only essential services like supermarkets and pharmacies will be allowed to run and all residents are required to stay at home.

"Delta is serious, and we have every reason to believe this is the Delta variant. And we can see from around the world that it is a game-changer. So that means we need to respond to that," Ardern told reporters at a news conference.

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The patient -- an unvaccinated 58-year-old male -- tested positive for the virus in Auckland.

Auckland, where the infected man lives, and Coromandel, where he is known to have visited, will remain under lockdown for seven days.

"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 part while we gather more information on the potential case," the government said in a statement.

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"We are one of the last countries in the world to have the Delta variant in our community," Health Director General Ashley Bloomfield said during a press conference.

"We're in the position to learn from experience overseas, and what actions work, and what actions don't work."

To date, New Zealand has had a total of 2,600 coronavirus cases and has administered more than 2.5 million vaccine doses.

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