New Zealand PM Ardern orders nationwide lockdown over one COVID case


New Zealand will enter a snap nationwide lockdown at its highest level on Tuesday night after a 58-year-old man from Auckland tested positive for COVID-19, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced.

Why it matters: This is the first coronavirus case detected in NZ’s community for 170 days and officials are concerned the man may have the highly contagious Delta variant. New Zealand has only experienced a level 4 nationwide lockdown once before.

  • This is only the second lockdown for communities outside Auckland, NZ’s most populous city, since the pandemic began.

Driving the news: Ardern noted at a news conference Tuesday that although it was unknown what strain of the virus the man had, most of the infections in managed hotel quarantine had the Delta variant.

What’s happening: The level 4 national lockdown will last for three days, from 11:59 p.m. Tuesday.

  • Auckland and the Coromandel Peninsula, which the recently man visited, will likely experience this for seven days.

The big picture: New Zealand has largely contained COVID-19 cases to managed hotel quarantine facilities.

  • Under alert level 4 restrictions, schools move to remote classes and non-essential businesses close — including food delivery services. Only essential travel is permitted, and water activities like swimming are banned.
  • People must remain at home unless they’re exercising outdoors and locally and within their household “bubbles.”
  • The country has paused vaccinations for the duration of the lockdown.

By the numbers: Since the pandemic began, NZ has recorded 2,926 COVID-19 cases in the country of 5 million and 26 people have died from the virus.

Go deeper: New Zealand to gradually reopen to the world next year

Editor’s note: This a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.