Covid in New Zealand: coronavirus cases, deaths, vaccination rate, restrictions and snap lockdown explained

The country had been declared as virus free earlier this year, and was able to lift all of its remaining Covid-19 restrictions

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It has been announced that New Zealand, which had been declared Covid free in early June, is going into a snap lockdown after a single case of Covid-19 has been identified.

With international borders still largely remaining closed, authorities have expressed concerns over the origins of the new case because, as it stands, it cannot clearly be linked back to its borders or quarantine facilities.

This is what you need to know.

What’s going on in New Zealand?

A snap lockdown in New Zealand has been announced after a man tested positive for Covid-19, which is the first case that the country has seen in six months.

The New Zealand government announced that from 11:59pm on Tuesday 17 August, the entire country will move into Alert Level 4.

This measure will remain in place for three days, with the exception of Auckland and the Coromandel Peninsula, which will stay under lockdown for the next seven days. This is because the case was identified in Auckland, and the infected person visited the coastal town of Coromandel.

Authorities have said that they are working under the assumption that the case is due to the Delta variant of the virus.

The New Zealand government has stated that 14 locations of interest have been identified following the movement of the Devonport man who tested positive for Covid-19.

The Government states: “The man became symptomatic on Saturday, 14 August, and was likely infectious since Thursday, 12 August.”

The locations of interest include a hotel, gas station and a number of cafes.

What are the rules in New Zealand under Alert Level 4?

Under Alert Level 4, residents must stay at home and can only leave for a handful of reasons, including to go grocery shopping, access necessary healthcare, get a Covid-19 test, exercise in the local area or going to work if they are working an an Alert Level 4 service and are unable to work from home.

Face coverings are encouraged when out of the house, and are legally required on public transport and flights.

All public facilities must close, including restaurants, cafes, gyms, cinemas and playgrounds, and indoor and outdoor events like family gatherings and weddings cannot go ahead.

All schools and early childhood education centres must close as well.

What has Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said?

In a televised national address, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said: “Delta has been called a game changer, and it is. It means we need to again go hard and early to stop the spread.

“We have seen what can happen elsewhere if we fail to get on top of it. We only get one chance.

Ardern then announced the move to level four for New Zealand.

In her address, she added: “I want to assure New Zealand that we have planned for this eventuality, and that we will now be putting in place that plan to contain and stamp out Covid-19 once again.

“Going hard and early has worked for us before. While we know that Delta is a more dangerous enemy to combat, the same actions that overcame the virus last year can be applied to beat it again.”

New Zealand’s Director of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield, has said that the question of the origin of this case is “a national issue”.

Bloomfield said: “Because we cannot link the case to the border at this point, it is possible there are other cases around Auckland and other possible chains of transmission - people from around the country will have travelled to Auckland, and back to other parts of New Zealand.

“It requires us all to be part of the response, and hard work from everyone across the country will help us get on top of this outbreak.”

What are Covid cases in New Zealand like?

New Zealand has seen some of the greatest success around the world in terms of its ability to eliminate the Covid-19 virus.

Over the course of the pandemic, New Zealand has reported just 2,500 confirmed cases of the virus, and 26 related deaths. In the UK, we’ve seen 6,295,613 cases of Covid-19, and had 130,979 deaths, according to Worldometers.

Earlier this year in June, New Zealand was able to lift all of its Covid-19 restrictions, and was declared virus-free.

The country first went into lockdown on 25 March and set up a four stage alert system. In the highest alert system, most businesses had to close, schools were shut and people were instructed to stay at home.

At the point of its first lockdown, New Zealand had recorded 102 cases and no deaths. In the UK, which locked down at around the same time, more than 6,500 cases had been recorded, and more than 330 deaths.

New Zealand was able to move into its level one ahead of time after no new cases were reported for 17 days.

Ardern had said at the time that New Zealand was under some of the strictest regulations in the world, but that she would “make no apologies” as the country battled the pandemic.

How many in New Zealand have been vaccinated?

While the country has been largely successful at keeping the virus in check, it has been slow to get its residents vaccinated.

As of Monday (16 August) at 11:59pm, 1.16 million people in New Zealand have received their first shot, and 934,000 receiving their second.

Only around 32 per cent of the population in New Zealand has been vaccinated once, and only 18 per cent are fully vaccinated.

By contrast, in the UK around 61 per cent of its population is fully vaccinated, with 34 million in England, 3.47 million in Scotland, 2.14 million in Wales and 1.12 million in Northern Ireland all fully vaccinated.

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