Tuesday August 17, 6pm
New Zealand will go into a snap level 4 lockdown at 11.59pm tonight.
The country will stay at level 4 for three days, except for Auckland and the Coromandel Peninsula, which will be at level 4 for seven days.
Earlier this afternoon one Covid case was detected in the community in Auckland.
There is yet to be any clear link established between this case and known cases at the border or in managed isolation.
People who are currently not in their hometown or city have up to 48 hours to get home, but the Prime Minister says “ideally as soon as possible we would like people to relocate”.
The Delta variant
The Ministry of Health is not able to identify if it is the Delta variant until tomorrow when genome sequencing is returned.
However Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says every case in MIQ recently has been Delta and Delta is surging around the world, so “we need to assume that our case will be too”.
She says we know Delta is a dangerous enemy to combat, but going hard and early has worked for us before, and the same actions can be applied to beat it again.
Ardern says we’ve seen the consequences of not acting fast enough when it comes to the Delta variant, especially recently in Australia.
“It is better to start high and go down levels rather than start too low and not contain the virus and see it move quickly.”
Delta can be twice as infectious as other variants of Covid-19.
“We are one of the last countries in the world to have the Delta variant in our community,” says Ardern. “We are in the position to learn from experience overseas.”
The Ministry of Health will do whole genome sequencing on this case, as well as looking at testing results from people from locations of interest, to see if there are undetected chains of transmission elsewhere.
Details on the case
The case is a 58-year-old man who lives in Devonport on the North Shore in Auckland.
Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield says the man had recently travelled with his wife to Coromandel, returning to Auckland on August 15.
He became symptomatic on August 14, and presented to his GP yesterday with symptoms and was tested.
This means his infection period is likely to have begun around August 12.
Dr Bloomfield has thanked the person for getting tested, saying “we can only act on cases if we know they are there as soon as possible.”
He lives with his wife who has returned a negative test result. They have been self-isolating at home.
The man has not been vaccinated, and he had been in the process of booking a vaccine but had trouble with the booking website, Dr Bloomfield says. His wife has been fully vaccinated.
He has a small number of workplace contacts.
He was a frequent user of the Covid tracer app, which Dr Bloomfield say “has helped us very much” in identifying locations of interest.
Locations of interest
There are currently 23 locations of interest, 13 in Coromandel and 10 in Auckland.
They will be continuously updated here on the Ministry of Health website, but currently they are:
If you have been at these locations required under the health act to follow the health instructions and isolate or get a test if told to do so.
A reminder of what level 4 involves
You may only leave your home for:
- Physical exercise in your neighbourhood
- Visiting the supermarket, dairy, pharmacy or petrol station
- Necessary medical care or getting a Covid test
All the following are closed:
- Schools and workplaces are closed
- Shops, restaurants, cafes and takeaways are closed
- All events and gatherings are cancelled
You should wear a mask when you leave the house, and stay 2m away from anyone else. Do not congregate, do not gather to talk to your neighbours, and keep to your bubble.
Ardern says Delta can be spread by people just walking past each other, so “physical distancing is even more important”.
The bubble is back: you are only allowed to see those in your immediate household. If you live alone or are completely isolated, you can join a bubble with one other person you have contact with, but you must be faithful to each other and see no one other than that person.
It is not a legal requirement to wear a mask, but the government is strongly advising people to do so.
“If you step outside your house, pop a mask on,” says Jacinda Ardern.