New Zealand has entered a snap three-day lockdown for the first time in over a year after recording a community-transmitted case of COVID-19.
The government moved the entire country to alert level four from midnight last night for at least three days, except for Auckland and the Coromandel Peninsula, where it is likely to last an entire week.
“Going hard and early has worked for us before,” Kiwi Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.
“While we know that Delta is a more dangerous enemy to combat, the same actions that overcome the virus last year can be applied to beat it again.”
She told this morning’s press conference genome-sequencing had shown that the first community transmitted case, which was recorded three days ago, was linked to the NSW outbreak.
There are now seven known community cases linked to the original community case and 16 close contacts have been identified.
New Zealand Health CEO Dr Ashley Bloomfield said most of the cases were people in their 20s, and one of the cases was a fully-vaccinated health care worker at Auckland City Hospital.
New Zealand’s Department of Health has confirmed the cases are the Delta variant.
The lockdown means that even vaccination centres will be closed until Thursday, and will reopen with tighter restrictions in place.
This comes just days after the country rolled out plans to slowly reopen its international borders at the beginning of next year.
Meanwhile, across the ditch, Tasmania has tightened its travel restrictions for NSW travellers.
Anyone who is approved to travel to Tasmania from a high-risk, level-one location such as NSW will now be required to produce a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of their travel to the state.
Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein said the new measure was to ensure those who need to get home can do so safely.
“It’s important that those who do not need to come to Tasmania at this time don’t, and we believe this additional requirement will help us with that,” Gutwein said.
“Our strong border restrictions have been working to keep Tasmanians safe, and will remain in place with NSW for the foreseeable future. Victoria and the ACT have extended their lockdowns for two weeks and our border restrictions will remain unchanged with those states.”
Greater Darwin and Katherine regions in the Northern Territory were also declared high-risk, level two locations on Monday.
This means any person who has been in any of those NT municipalities will not be permitted to enter Tasmania unless as an approved essential traveller.
A stay-at-home direction has been implemented for anyone who arrived in Tasmania and was in the municipalities of Darwin, Palmerston and Katherine on or since 11pm on 12 August and arrived in Tasmania before 4pm yesterday.
In some positive news, Gutwein said all of Queensland is now considered low risk, except for the high-risk premises that will remain listed until they expire after 14 days.
Featured image source: covid19.govt.nz